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One day in el Camino de Santiago

The pilgrims follow the Sun in the day, from East to West and follow the Milky Way (Via Lactea) in the night. They see the sunrise in the mornings and follow the Sun towards the West walking through pure, golden fields or crossing colourful mountains.

Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James, is a new life, a life inside your life where you have the chance of truly being yourself, a return to the basics of the human being, where you have the chance of paying attention to the small things that we always forget in our “busy-lifes”. You get up, admire the day, feel in touch with the Earth, breath, and observe yourself, your environment and people beside you. Then you walk, and think, and admire the day. You meet people in your Camino de Santiago and you really listen to them, you feel a connection with them, they are not strangers. You learn from them and care about them.

You feel hungry and think about how and where you will eat: under a tree, beside a stream of water or in the next village you will find. Probably you already have in your pocket some figs from a fig tree you found by the path or some almonds, cheese or sweet wine that a local just gave to you asking nothing in exchange. You feel tired but very healthy. The Sun is giving you strength.

You continue enjoying the day and Nature and observing everything that happens around you. If unfortunately some car happens to pass nearby you are shocked because you are walking now and you see the world at your natural pace and just the sight of such a fast, noisy and polluting machine is frightening. You think: “What are they for?”.

The Sun is dying now. It is time to rest and wait for the following day. In El Camino de Santiago you can choose where you will sleep: in the next village? in the small albergue enjoying a dinner of local food and nice company? Or maybe under the stars in the warm night? (just think of how often you have this possibility in your normal life).

And the following day the cycle starts again. You will choose how far you want to walk, you will choose your route, you will choose where you will stop to stare at something. This is the freedom that I mentioned earlier, the chance to be you, the chance to take care of the real important things.

In the Camino de Santiago de Compostela there is no competition but there is a communion with the Nature and other beings. Once you have been seduced by its charm you can’t even tell if you have been there just for a few days or for years.

A LASTING GIFT

Our Camino kept escorting us off the map. I refer not routes outlined in one of the Brierley guidebooks, but any lay of the land as to how a Camino is supposed to look. Our first day out (October 1, 2012) found us leaving my wife’s pack in a bus station. By the second day, we’d lost our guidebook, the worse because it was borrowed. The third day, we recalled (too far back for tired legs) walking sticks leaning over empty plates of tortillas in an aromatic cafe´. The fourth day the watch went. And so on, until the thin blue camera with the best photos of our life must have leaped out of a torn back pocket.

We were pobrecitos. Having left behind our plans and assumptions, uninformed by time and without images—St. James had politely removed them all and extended to my wife and me his invitation to walk into newness, freshness, the mystery of each of our days on this gran adventura.

Yet there were more ‘gifts’ of Our Lady of Compostella—the feeling of being as home as rocks in green Galicia, stunning embraces at the plaza below La Catedral de Santiago, the bonding of globalized hearts…and one last and lasting regalo.

Not far from our destination, a voice whispered far within our ears a message as clear as springtime arising, “It’s time for a Camino de Crestone.” That’s where we live, in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Our little international mountain town of Crestone at the foot of sacred mountains, has since the ’70s drawn to its quaintness numerous retreat centers, spiritual enclaves, labyrinths, sweat lodges, prayer circles, medicine wheels and sanctuaries. Immediately, the Camino’s invitation to create another Camino became clear: The Camino de Crestone would be the world’s first interfaith pilgrimage.

Now, week-long pilgrimages take place between June and September in which pilgrims visit 15 spiritual centers—each like a bead on a necklace—enjoy 18 special presentations, plus an extensive audio tour, on this 36-mile educational intensive doubling as a spiritual retreat. Last year witnessed the inaugural Camino de Crestone—a life-affirming, life-transforming pilgrimage—with five more planned in 2014 (www.caminodecrestone.com).

Buen Camino! May all caminantes walk into their larger destinies, and may all of our lives be pilgrimages of exquisite gifts.

By William Howell

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Acknowledgements: William Howell, www.caminodecrestone.com
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Camino de Santiago Blog

This is the first post of the brand new blog for our Camino de Santiago website so we should take it as the official launching. We will post in this blog all the matters that don’t fit in any of our Camino de Santiago website’s pages and I suppose that there will be plenty of them. For instance, we could post here a reply to a very interesting question made in our Camino de Santiago forum in order to give it more visibility or any piece of news related to El Camino de Santiago, etc. So happy blogging from El Camino de Santiago website team!