July 17, 2008

Some post-Camino Reflections

Some reflections now I am home.

Why did I even think of going on the Camino?

I know that I love ‘to be’ in landscapes.
The idea of being immersed for so long in French/ Spanish culture,
history, and especially landscapes, appealed.

Plus there was the challenge: ‘Could I do it?’
day after day, for so long, with blisters, a heavy pack, difficult terrain, bad weather or hot temperatures…
And might I ‘sort out’ a little my muddled feelings about my Catholic heritage?

Could I do it and be joyful?

What happened while I was walking?

Joy. Gladness. Peace.
Happiness. An awareness of how fortunate I was to be experiencing this,
walking under such immense open skies
over time and seasons, through so many varied landscapes.

Living a life that had a simple daily rhythm
with time to notice the ‘little things’
to walk at dawn and notice spider webs laden with dew drops
to share the wet path with huge slugs
to be quiet in the glory of a sunrise
to see storks sitting on nests with their ever growing young
to marvel at the red of poppies in the wheatfields
to see vistas that stretched out far into the distance
and views from mountaintops that took my breath away
to be in the moment, on the earth
in simplicity.

Experiencing friendship with others, briefly or for a longer time,
who were also learning about perseverance
and simplicity, rhythm and joy
walking in the outdoors, every day.

And knowing that the ‘church’ stuff made no more sense than it had at home:
some French churches seemed like mausoleums to a dead faith,
and Spanish ones were mostly closed,
or covered in gaudy baroque extravagance.
Though sometimes, hearing people sing in these old churches
brought awe and joy,
and in a few places, pilgrims from the past seemed to almost still be there with their reverence permeating the walls.

And what now, now that I am home?

I have a deep sense of thankfulness for the experience.

I thought a lot about people I know while I walked
and know that I need to treasure them as friends and family.

Long days of rhythmic walking have led me to know
that so many things we run around and do
are not important
are only stress-inducing
But the challenge of how to live an everyday working life and not be consumed by unimportant demands… has no obvious and immediate solution…..

Walking, deep in my heart, I knew joy.
But I found no ‘church’ place.
I am unlikely to go to Church much if at all,
I am likely to create chances to be in the outdoors, often.

I have many joyful memories.
And I know I have many near-by landscapes to explore
in a simpler life.


  1. I read your entire list of postings for your journey from France through Spain.
    I am planning my first walk in May 2012, and I am voraciously reading everything I can find.
    Your photos are beautiful and your blog entires are encouraging, thoughtful and inviting.

    Thanks for bringing me with you, even if it was virtually!

  2. Hi Margaret
    This is Sean - one of the Irish guys from Los Arcos (green t-shirt in pic) - someone sent me the link to your blog - well done. I really enjoyed dipping in to it. Both your words and your pictures capture much of what I found the camino to be. Thanks. Hope you are well and still walking
    Buen camino

  3. Thanks Sylvie for your kind comments. Somehow I missed them and have only just caught up.
    Sean- so very glad to hear from you. I often think of you Irish guys. I found that afternoon's walk into Los Arcos so hard- for no apparent reason because the countryside was beautiful. Maybe I was dehydrated or something. And then I reached Los Arcos and you guys were so very kind to me, inviting me to share a drink inthe cafe, then inviting me to your meal. I have very fond memories of you all! Please say hi from me to the others in your group. Margaret

  4. Oh and Sean... I hope to walk again in France either in 2012 or more likely 2013. Maybe Cluny to Conques, and perhaps a route near the Pyrenees foothills.... but time will tell. What about you? Are you planning to go back and walk some more of the Camino?