The English translation of the Spanish word “Camino” is path, way or journey. Life is a path, way or journey. Reflecting on the path from Pied St. Jean to Santiago de Compostela, in many ways it could be the way or path I traveled most of my life. There were wrong roads, backtracking, watching for the correct markers, trying not to get lost. It was adventurous but much better marked than my life road. One of the most asked questions by travelers on the Camino was, “Why are you walking the Camino?” My answer always was “I started walking my Camino in earnest, seven years ago.” I said in earnest, but my actual Camino walk began when I was born. That is when I began to rely on someone to guide me, no doubt the most significant were my parents. My life road depended on someone or something to guide me, so did my walk on the Comino but there was a vast difference.
My first companion was John Brierley’s book. As I mentioned in a previous post, it was interesting to a degree. While I walked the Camino it became a constant companion, information about towns I’m passing through, where to eat, where to sleep and telephone numbers for those places. It was a wealth of information for that day and for mapping out next day’s journey. It also gave directions on the trail I was walking, however, it could not take the place of the experience of the walk and was not meant to. The experience was realty and was my truth pertaining to the walk. The book was John Brierley’s experience that he researched, walked and wrote about, that was his truth. His truth was a help to me but I had to experience it myself, for it to become my truth.
My next companion was the trail marker, the Camino shell or the yellow arrow. It was necessary to be on a constant lookout for those markers, they were placed at regular intervals along the way. When I was walking for a period of time and never saw a marker, the thought would come to mind, “did I miss a marker, am I going the right way? Then a marker would appear and was comforting, that I’m on the right road. A couple of times I had to backtrack but nothing serious, The book was a help in that area as well.
My third companion was the other pilgrims. Walking through the larger towns and cities because of the number of signs, it was easy to miss a Camino marker, also for me the book could not give the specific directions I needed. Burgos caused me problems, I set out early in the morning, missed a marker and could not get the proper direction I needed from the book and had to back track twice. I met a couple from Argentina who were having the same problem. Our salvation, another pilgrim on the right trail, he was recognized by the backpack. (I will put faces to some of the pilgrims I met as I travel in the blog.) A fourth companion in Pamplona. As I was leaving the city, I made a left turn which took me off the trail, a lady from Pamplona recognized me by my backpack, and knew I was a pilgrim on the Camino, she ran after me and pointed the correct way.
Those were my constant companions, one or the other, was always with me and kept me in “the Way” while walking the Camino. My life journey has not been as clear. I have taken many wrong roads, walked long distances to come to a dead end. I endeavoured learning my way along the pathway of life, but it didn’t work. I followed others who did not know the road, neither did I recognize those who knew the correct way. I missed markers that were given to me. Neither was I recognizable, so that others could set me on the correct road. My life experiences are my truths and have brought me to this point in my life. I now recognize some of the markers and the guide book which if I had know early in my life, would have taken me on a somewhat different trek. My destination will be the same, but the path would not have been strewn with so many obstacles and would have made it easier for others who were in “the way” with me.