All of us are pilgrims on this earth. I have even heard it said that the earth itself is a pilgrim in the heavens. MAXIM GORKY
My Camino is done. On the way I befriended strangers, and strangers befriended me. Each night I slept in a different place, sometimes with other pilgrims in the same room. Families welcomed me into their homes and entrusted me with their children. Motorists wound down their car windows and wished me 'Bonne route!' and 'Bon courage!' Market stallholders gave me food for free, and villagers filled up my water bottles. Each day I became fitter and fitter, until mountains became mere hills, and 30 km seemed like a short but very beautiful walk in the park.
I passed churches and chapels, crosses and calvaries, shrines and sepulchres - the sacred places. I followed shell signs and stone markers. I had a mini-spiritual crisis at a hunting lodge in the middle of an ancient forest and wrote this poem about it. I did not pray much - I find it difficult to do so - but I had many prayerful silences and secular meditations. I remembered, and honoured in thought, my sister and my parents.
I met with the kindness of strangers and, hopefully, gave back some small thing in return, perhaps some reflected Camino glow, some bohemian rhapsody. I witnessed natural wonders which made my spirit soar and my heart sing. I encountered great beauty, and some of that beauty rubbed off on me, and touched my soul.
So, my Camino is done. And a new Camino begins. It is always thus. One door closes, another door opens. Or, as Eliot put it in Four Quartets, The end is where we start from. Already I feel a change happening in my life. On the practical, workaday level there's the glimmer of a possibility of a whole new career. And, on the more important spiritual level, I hope I've learnt a little about about giving, about friendship, about beauty, about love; and I keep faith that at least some of this fragile sense of love and beauty may leak out into everything I do in the usual and everyday world, the world outside the special 'bubble' that is the Camino.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise / Doth ask a drink divine... BEN JONSON Song To Celia