- 2013 Camino – Pictures, comments and resources from my first Camino on the Via de la Plata and Camino Frances (Astorga to Santiago).
- 2016 Camino – Pictures and comments from my second Camino on the Via de la Plata and Camino Frances (St. Jean Pied de Port to Foncebadon).
In 2013 I walked the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route for the first time. I started in Seville in the south of Spain and walked north, mostly in solitude, along the Via de la Plata route until I reached Astorga. I then joined the crowds on the Camino Frances and walked from Astorga to Santiago. In 2016 I walked again from Seville to Astorga. Then I traveled by train and bus to St. Jean Pied de Port in France and walked the Camino Frances back to Astorga and on to the Cruz de Ferro.
While both Caminos covered similar routes, they were very different – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Let me explain through a story – During my second Camino in 2016 my friend Bill and I were walking into Pamplona on the Camino Frances when we met two pilgrims – a father and his daughter. The father was in his early 60’s and had just retired from a successful medical practice in Canada. He had started his Camino in Lepuy, France and had already walked several hundred kilometers to reach Pamplona. His daughter had recently joined him and the two hoped to walk all the way to Santiago. As we talked the father mentioned that part of the reason he had decided to walk the Camino was to discover what he should do now that he was retired. In effect, it was the classic question of, “What should I do with the rest of my life?” As the father spoke, it became clear that he treated the question with a great deal of importance. Something inside pushed me to ask, “You’ve already walked a long way. Have you found any answers?” The father stopped in his tracks, turned to look directly at me and, with a wondrous smile on his face, said, “I’ve learned that I can do this.” I nodded, knowing exactly what he meant. I had felt the same sense of confidence and accomplishment when I walked into Santiago on my first Camino three years before. I had completed one of the greatest challenges in my life and endured physical, emotional and spiritual tests that made the experience seem more like an initiation than a pilgrimage. I returned home after my first Camino with a heightened feeling of self-reliance that bordered on cocky boldness – “I can do this.”
On my second Camino my confidence was severely tested. It was only after I met the father and daughter on the way into Pamplona that I realized my first Camino was all about “what” I was capable of doing – “what” I could do. My second Camino became an extended lesson in “how” I needed to lead my life. The experience showed me that I all too often jump into the “whats” of life (a job, a relationship or a major purchase) without first understanding the “hows” – how am I going to feel, handle and react to the choices I’ve made. In the end it is far more important to know “how” I should lead my life than “what” I should do. In effect, if I know “how” to live my life, the “whats” will take care of themselves.
- 2013 Camino – Pictures, comments and resources from my first Camino on the Via de la Plata and Camino Frances (Astorga to Santiago) pilgrimage routes
- 2016 Camino – Pictures and comments from the second Camino on the Via de la Plata and Camino Frances (St. Jean Pied de Port to Foncebadon) routes