|Fort Vancouver near our home|
The days, since returning from Spain, have been spent reconnecting to our home life. Although we were only gone for just over a month, returning from a Camino always seems a bit like emerging from a time warp. The way of the pilgrim is so different that it does require a sort of reorientation upon returning home. Having the freedom to get up when you want, do something else other than walking, not obsessing over the weather, eating and drinking what you please are all simple choices that we take for granted. These become distant, but tantalizing, recollections once you are on the Camino trail. The discipline required to cover long distances, in all kinds of weather, does limit certain freedoms, but less familiar freedoms also appear as offsets. In short you adopt a less complicated lifestyle characterized by a tighter focus, with fewer distractions, and an overwhelming desire to stay warm and dry. Whatever lifestyle limitations are necessary to walk a Camino are more than offset by the hope engendered by the Way, and all that you encounter while walking it.
Yes, we all love our comfort, but it can cut a groove in our lives that causes us to get stuck. The willingness to step outside of our comfort zone and put many of our favorite pleasures on hold is not a bad thing. In fact, it is absolutely a good thing, a healthy thing. I guess that in part explains why Robin and I continue to return. Camino life is not always easy but it nurtures the mind, the body, and the soul. It also allows you to experience people in uniquely interesting ways. Robin and I are always warmed by the kindness of strangers, and humbled by their generosity. Every time we walk we add more to our blessings list than we could ever have hoped to imagine. Yes, there is also venality (very little), but so what. Humans will be human after all. It is how you choose to process those disappointments that allows you to grow, and move on. But, that is all part of any Camino.
The Camino Ignaciano captured all the things I have mentioned above, but seemed to be a richer experience than our previous Caminos. It certainly wasn’t anything physical, although the scenery was pretty stunning in parts. It was more metaphysical. Robin is fond of quoting someone who said, “When the student is ready the teacher appears.” I think this lies at the core of why the Ignaciano route touched us the way it did. Our hearts were simply more open to the discoveries of this pilgrimage. It was very much a solitary walk as we counted only 12 Santiago bound pilgrims when we passed, eastbound, through Logroño. We never encountered a single other pilgrim on the Ignaciano route for the 27 days we walked it. We were left with our thoughts, reflections, musings, and prayers for long periods of time. Did this occasion a more open heart? Perhaps, but I find it is always difficult to triangulate the origin of these things. Sometimes you just find yourself in a certain state of mind that is hard to explain (the Spirit blows where it will), but you feel blessed. I think I will just leave it there.
We are continuing to enjoy life at home and the unseasonably mild and dry weather we returned to. We still take daily walks (usually 5 miles instead of 15), Robin is happily back singing with her choir at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Portland, and creating wonderful dinners in our kitchen, our local American Pilgrims on the Camino (APOC) Portlandia Chapter continues to grow, and we are actively involved in that. We have also committed to spending a month in Santiago, starting June 12th, volunteering with The Camino Chaplaincy (English language masses) at the cathedral. Please stop by and say hello if you are in Santiago. I feel confident that our Camino journey will continue, but for now Robin and I are simply enjoying the peace of being at peace.
Buen camino to all who are setting out.