The Way is an Adventure, with a capital A. It’s a long distance journey enhanced by a spiritual dimension. An outer but mostly inner pilgrimage! Here are 8 words to share the experience of the Camino.
Here and now. To be fully present to what one does, to what one is. The rest of the World doesn’t matter. Actually, it wouldn’t change anything if it were to fall apart… Everything is decided here, where I walks or rests. Everything is decided now, at the time I walks or rests. Nothing of the surroundings escapes his-her notice. The elements and the landscape that revolves around him-her, the ground and the Way that unfold under his-her feet. The animals that go with him-her, the people I meets. Nothing of itself escapes his-her notice. The energy of his-her body and the sensations that I live thanks to it. The state of his-her mind and the mood I expresses. His-her place and presence on the Camino, within the Camino.
I is nothing. Who is I in the immensity of the World and Universe? A speck of dust along the Way… Reduced to the essential, one’s identity and function lose their importance. Who? A man, a woman, a destitute-looking pilgrim with a potential repellent smell. Human beings on the Camino, all identical, all busy going towards Santiago. The great length of the Ways and the majesty of the landscapes rub it in… All so small and so delicate in this World!
And at the same time, I is so important! Who is I in the immensity of the World and Universe? A speck of dust essential to the Way… Nothing and no one can replace it. A man, a woman, an admirable pilgrim who would be missed is absent. Unique human beings on the Camino, worthy and deserving to be here, to be met, to receive. They belong to the Ways ant to the landscapes. All so beautiful and so important for the World!
True humility starts here. When one knows that I is nothing. But also that at the same time, I is important. By accepting that I is great, worthy and important while being aware to be so small and insignificant…
Thanks! Such a small word… We use it automatically and insouciance to answer a donation or an Other. But do we truly realize what it holds? Not wholeheartedly, until one donation or one Other suddenly gives it sense and life. Then, the word “thanks” really seems too small. Terribly too small! I doesn’t know what to do to pay tribute or to do justice to the donation or to the Other… I feels bad, helpless, troubled; sometimes ashamed or mad at him-herself. The heart overflows, tears too. I is immersed into an ocean of gratitude…
And then, the experience happens again. No donation, no Other. Only gratefulness to be and be here. “Thanks” is given to the World, to the Universe, to God (or else, if you prefer). “Thanks” then has the effect of a hurricane alive within the heart and soul of the pilgrim.
To be at the right place at the right moment. A feeling that is too often missing in “normal life”. A feeling of total alignment between I, Earth and Sky. The certainty to be exactly and perfectly at the place that is for I in the Universe. No doubts, no worries… Whatever happens, all is fine. The mind chills as it finds sense, even if it doesn’t understand its reason. It doesn’t matter, as intuition confirms I has a reason to exist that is being fulfilled… To walk, rest, meet people, chat, whatever the occupation, I knows s-he’s doing the right action and being with the right people.
All is fine in the World that is mine… The stress, the anxiety and the pressure of “normal life”, of the preparations, of the departure and of the first days on the Way have disappeared. The unknown of the days to come doesn’t create worried anymore. I has found his-her place on the Camino. As brought back to what is essential, the pilgrim’s life is simple and peaceful. Walking slows down both body and mind, it settles them in a lasting relaxed state. It makes them move ahead on an inner path, slowly leading them to sooth tensions and life’s traumas.
Step by step, I becomes free. S-he turns into a peaceful ocean that is impossible to miss. In his-her eyes, in his-her words, in his-her posture, in his-her way to move exists an inner peace that glows toward the outside.
A bright smile within the heart and soul. Enjoying simple things. A sunset, a fresh or warm drink, an unexpected encounter. To fully be there and, at once, feel the heart laughing with pleasure. Revel with every step and make of every single one of them a feast. No need of balloons or cake, this feast takes place within. Such a joy actually is joyfully contagious… It glows from the bottom of the heart to the smile, then reaches those who get in touch with it!
Myself and the Others, same thing with different faces. The individual Camino of the beginnings is no more, it has met others ones. I doesn’t care anymore of who presents his-herself: whoever the foreigner, s-he is another I to be met. Of course, there may be more sympathy for some I and not for others… But it’s a fact: social identities have disappeared, revealing the common essence of the I who are going to Santiago. All are made of the same substance and have the same History. A great and large family…
Then, out of nowhere, a new sensation. Myself, the Others and the World, same thing with different faces. I is on the Camino with his-her peers and feels a connection to the World. No separation or hierarchy anymore, I is part of the World and perfectly fits into it. Pilgrims, trees, cows, landscapes, monuments… all are the same, made of the same substance. A great and large family…
The Camino is a Way of Love. With a capital L! Presence, humility, gratitude, peace, joy, rightfulness, connection… Experiences that slowly give birth to a familiar feeling: love. Thanks to the Camino, falling in Love of oneself, of Others, of the World. Love, without going through an mediator to feel it. Open I to the ocean of Love that is alive on the Way. Feel a warmth within that makes I alive and that lives through him-her.
And then, once returned…
The cold sensation to have left a paradise! The Camino is a rich and intense inner experience… However, no need to be on the Camino to live it. “Normal life” is a worthy place too to experiment presence, humility, gratitude, peace, joy, rightfulness, connection and Love.
To wait to go again is a mistake… To assimilate what one lives on the Camino with the Camino itself, it’s to deny oneself the opportunity to live these experiences everyday. Of course, once back in the crazy stream of everyday life, it is more difficult to fully feel and manifest it. It’s the hidden face of any pilgrimage. Once the “sacred place” has been reached, one still has to return home and integrate his-her experience to his-her “normal life”… What a promising work ahead, isn’t it?!?
Despite the awkwardness and the desire to return to the source, nothing is lost, everything is possible. Presence, humility, gratitude, peace, joy, rightfulness, connection, Love… All of it is indeed an attitude, an inner state that can be manifested anywhere. The Camino has revealed it, it’s now a memory left to us to keep alive.
Let’s bring the experience of the Camino into our lives and keep it alive!
And you? Did your experience have other words? Have you managed to keep the experience of the Camino once back to your “normal life”? 😉