why walk a camino, an introduction - (01)
Updated: Sep 24
"As we've lost this idea of pilgrimage, we've lost this idea of human beings walking
for a very, very long time. It does change you." Robyn Davidson, Tracks.
What does the Camino offer you, the hopeful pilgrim?
For over a thousand years men and women have walked from home to Santiago de Compostela, and back again. Today, we may walk different paths but the ghosts of those travellers still haunt the way. You can witness their journey in the polished and worn away stone steps on an ancient bridge. You can stand with them, and gaze in awe, at the majestic and mightily impressive Burgos Cathedral. You can enjoy a steaming hot bowl of traditional Galician soup or a simple bread and cheese picnic. In all these ways, and more, you are imitating the ghosts. You are one little life in the crowd on a simple but ancient journey of discovery.
And this, I think, is perhaps the greatest gift the Camino offers the pilgrim, permission to step out of one set of clothes and into another. As you tread in the footsteps of those who have gone before, so one day, someone will tread in yours. It is a rare opportunity to experience life from a timeless perspective.
It starts the moment you pack. Most people tend to accumulate stuff, a lot of stuff. The Camino invites you to a simpler life. Pack only what you need and only what you can carry. It’s a simple lesson, and one you will be sure to understand after about two days.
The speed at which our world operates is dizzying. However, I am certain the stride of a human being 10,000 years ago is pretty much the same as now. If you walk the Camino you will discover a slow unhurried pace which you just can’t help but match. Life is reduced to the distance you can walk in a day.
The Camino calls on the pilgrim to be present, "in the moment". Gone are the diary commitments and the unrelenting distractions of modern living, And what fills this space? A renewed relationship with stillness and quietness. While the Camino cannot promise silence it does turn down the volume and allow the traveller the respite needed to listen to the inner dialogue.
The Camino invites the pilgrim to a space where they can live more simply, and pursue a slower, quieter existence. As we let go of the burdens from our ordinary life and embrace the unforced rhythm of pilgrimage, we meet the rarest of all creatures, peace.
A pilgrimage is not an eternal journey but I warn you, it is hard to stop. Many pilgrims, including myself, return to the road, we tasted something beautiful and we are reluctant to give it up easily.
One thing we know for certain, the change we experienced, it still works within us.