Day began in the pre-dawn half light, stretched out in front of the fireplace, the heat warming the stiffness from my body, watching the steam curl up from a small pot of tea, while gathering my thoughts for this blog. It is another typical Pacific Northwest early spring morning with a quilt of dove grey clouds hanging low over the valley with a few peaks to the east nestled into its soft underside. A sliver of pale light is struggling in vain to separate valley and cloud. This, for me, is the golden time when my mind, unfettered, tends to embrace all the possibilities of another new day. It seems, these days, I find myself winging back across the Atlantic and onto the Camino. I don’t want to obsess on the experience but it certainly has gripped (perhaps embraced is a better word) both Robin and I in a way that we can’t (or don’t want to) let go of.
Why did we go? To some it might seem reckless to run off to a foreign country and set out to walk across a good portion of it. What about this, and what about that? Have you ever done anything like this before came the questions from well meaning friends. Of course, we had no experiences to match up with what we proposed to do, but we also had a sense that all would be well (hubris or faith?). Is this the way others set out? Who could know, but in one sense it didn’t matter for once we were there it became obvious that we would simply walk our own camino. After all, there is no standard to follow. Just follow the markers and your heart. We all have a point of departure and a point of arrival in mind when we travel. It frames the journey and provides context for the time and effort spent to get to our destination. Plus, as part of our human legacy, we are more comfortable with known limits. Our journey started out in a somewhat similar fashion. Get to the point of departure, join the camino, set a goal for each day and walk that plan until you arrive in Santiago. Seemed easy enough. Oh, also be open minded enough to realize that all plans are subject to change (hmmm…). We got it (we thought), and were ready to go.
After one night in St. Jean we started up the valley route to Roncesvalles. That first day was exhilarating as we engaged the pitch of the pass adjusting our steps to the cadence of our upbeat mood. Everything just felt right for both Robin and I. We were finally walking the Camino. We were still bone tired from the trip to St. Jean, but with perfect weather for our ascent our fatigue slipped away, and as we climbed we realized a joy unlike any other we could remember. A call had been answered and we were on the Camino and underway at last. But, what about the “why” of the journey? I haven’t forgotten.