I am an American woman living in France who from 2004 through 2015 has walked the Camino Frances eleven times often alone in autumn and winter.
Fulfilling a dream held since university days, at 65 I first set out.
I, too, wanted to experience what so many had done across time and to see what had been built along the way while pondering the myths and ghosts of history. As most pilgrims do I discovered this endeavor to be hardly a walk in the park, but a unique mix of contemporary mundane chance and historic legend. When exhausted for courage I would remember one of the timeless adages associated with the Camino, "if a pilgrim makes it to the city of Burgos, he can make it to Santiago!" With time walking on an empty path while hearing only the distinctive crunch of my boots became a true pleasure.
Kindnesses of strangers along the way offering smiles, water, conversation, help and hospitality were a constant support. After walking two months when I first arrived at Santiago de Compostela in 2004 seeing at last the great cathedral, touching the hallowed stones, and weeping with joy as the great bells tolled were special thrills. Overwhelmed with emotion I silently gave thanks for all that had passed. Later when sorting memories and souvenirs, I slowly began to realize that my mind and heart had been deeply changed by this journey. Thus, I decided to try to return.
And so I have, eleven times.
Each Camino has begun with both anticipation and trepidation. As always I wonder how it all will go. My reasons include non-traditional spiritual ones giving thanks for each day lived and for my life with Bill which enables such a journey. Walking alone day after day I ponder varied aspects of the thousand-year history of this beloved route as well as recall several quotations which help define my personal creed. "But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity..." "I will walk in liberty for I seek thy precepts." Psalm 26:11 and 119:45 "No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path." Buddha
For those who asked why another Camino?
One answer was "le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas/ the heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing."
Pascal, Les Pensées
For those who asked why I did this at my age? I answered why not?
"what then? shall we sit idly down and say the night has come; it is no longer day? The night hath not yet come;...For age is opportunity no less than youth itself, though in another dress, and as the evening twilight fades away the sky is filled with stars, invisible by day."
Longfellow, Morituri Salutamus
Unfortunately mid-route 2015 after a fall when it was no longer possible to easily stand or walk my camino ceased; the sad, inevitable moment had come for me to stop. I reached the end of my trail....
In the future as age and time eventually take their further toll hopefully my precious memories will endure as long as I. Physically I may not be walking, but sentimentally I will always wear my pilgrim shell.
Sincerely grateful for all the happiness that I have found and shared along the way during these past years I wish only the best for the future of this beloved route. Might all who walk find fulfillment.
Thank you for reading my blog and offering your many comments.
"This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well, which thou must leave ere long."
Shakespeare, Sonnet LXXIII