Just about one year ago, and thanks to a sabbatical semester, I was able to spend one week on The Way of Saint James, the Camino de Santiago, in northern Spain. This is an ancient pilgrimage route that ends in Santiago de Compostela, where the casket of Saint James lies under the altar of the cathedral.
Pilgrims have walked the Camino for over 1000 years now. The French route, the most traveled way to Santiago, is well marked. Pilgrims wielding walking sticks follow the yellow arrows pointing the way. Stone way markers tell you the distance to Santiago. Fellow pilgrims wish you “buen camino” as they pass.
The Camino for me was an opportunity to breathe. Deep gulps of breath. Internet was only available at the beginning and ending of the day. Without the electronic leash, my friend Sharon and I instead were able to talk.
This past weekend, I returned to the Camino, my Camino. The walking sticks came out, and I removed myself from the stresses and worries of everyday life. I took the time to enjoy the spectacular autumn weather, and the brilliant blue sky.
It wasn’t as good as talking with Sharon, and then ending our day with some great Galician bread, Albariño wine and some occasional octopus.
But it got the job done.