The calling gets stronger…

I thought that calling was strong enough… starting years ago, as whispers in my head. “Camino, Camino, Camino”… A few years ago, I would chance on some blog, article or website that had to do with the… CAMINO. Then February of this year, the calling was more of a “head bong” – the type you hear with those old fashion Asian cylinders that call people to prayer.

The “bong” noise was faint at first – like a soft chime. Through the days, the chimes became bells, and the bells become BONGS. Loud ringing BONGS in my head, at the most odd time of the day. AND THEN… the thoughts came – – Go to the Camino. Do the Camino. Walk the Camino, Experience the Camino.
Please know I am a very grounded person. I don’t walk around with my head in the clouds (although my hubby might contest this) and I stand to be rather logical at times. But this was a calling. A calling I talked about early February. A calling that found me on May 13th at 7:05 AM setting my first step on the official Camino way. A calling that carried me more than 500 km and a month trekking each day, be it rain, sun, sweltering sun, mist, cold wind right to Santiago de Compostella.

When I arrived in Compostela, I knew I had reached my goal. OR, I THOUGHT I had reached my goal. After all, wasn’t the intention to walk to Compostela, get my Compostela from the official office, head out to Finnistere and complete my dream. Whohoo! … I thought so. I thought so, with all my heart.

Then, the return. Now, please don’t get me wrong. I live a FABULOUS life. I have a family I love and who love me, my sweetie with whom I have been married 25 years this October, two beautiful daughters and one soon-to-be son-in-law, loving siblings, a warm modest home, savings and now the status of retired. So why would the Camino call me again? or is it STILL?

What is the appeal? My sister Suzanne asked me this exact question on Friday… And frankly, I can’t answer… It’s such a complex attraction – the easy life of not having to worry about anything but clean underwear (and that’s a level of tolerance) – a few bits of food to eat, water, good shoes or boots, a direction and lots of walking… Is this what the Camino is about? Not at all. It’s all about…
Being in awed of all that surrounds us
Being aware of the simple change in nature, from region to region
Being aware of our own solitude, and ability to cope with said solitude
Getting to know our amazing capacities – when we think we can”t go any further, we do. When we think we can’t get up from the bed, we do. When we think we can’t get out in the rain, we do. When we think we don’t know anyone at the dinner table, we met. When we think we don’t really need to go to evening blessings, we do and feel better for it.

Opening your heart to everything… to the endless beauty of nature. To the endless sensual experiences; smelling the flowers and plants, watching a sunset, eating the local food and drinking the local wine, listening to the birds in the morning or the gypsy music playing in the bar, and seeing – – seeing the wind play in the fields and making it look like a ballet. Seeing the old bits of houses left and trying to imagine who lived there. Feeling the muscles in the legs so tired but happy when shoes are removed and legs are resting on the two inch mattress of the albergue. Listening to pilgrim stories at dinner, and catching a conversation with someone who speaks your language. Being the only one on the road and seeing the sun rise over the vineyard.

THAT is a smidgeon of what the Camino is about. A smidgeon, nothing more.
And the calling gets stronger… Now, rather than come to the Camino, it’s more of a “Return to the Camino”… and I wish it were just whispers here and there. It’s more like a loud wake-up call in some low-cost hotel “THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!!”…. Rogue travelers know this obnoxious intrusion in our morning dreams.

So when to go back? Sept? too busy for us. Nov? snow….. Mid April to end of May? ahhhhhh – – – – – nice option……
for now, I will enjoy the middle of the night sudden awakening to “eh, Where am I and what city am I in, AND (most important) do I have to get DOWN from a bunk bed for a bio break? moment. YES, they happen still.

i sense the Camino was a start, but not a finish to a dream… this is layer one of the proverbial onion! What shall be next?
Que sera sera!
I am excited and enthusiast about potentials –
and one little last statement for tonight – – – from my Camino shirt
Don’t dream your life, LIVE your dream!
Pilgrim Sylvie

Five Months Ago, One month ago.

On February 6th of this year, I wrote the following in my blog:

This thought of the Camino is not one of those fleeting thoughts or ideas. It didn’t come about like most others… Others came from outside – a new hobby, a new sport, a new pastime, a new thing to try and see.

This one almost seems like it came from the inside… and not from my mind. I almost alike it to a little seed that I knew was there, for quite a while, and then, almost as if Spring had touched it with the sun and fresh air, it started to grow. The idea, the concept grew. As it took up more space in my mind and daresay in my heart, it became stronger, but not in a negative way. It warmed me up inside, it made me smile, it gave me a breather when I need one, it calmed me down and so much more.

This was only five months ago. Five months ago, the Camino was a dream, but one I knew would happen
Five months ago, I was still working and trying to plan my training around my crazy hours
Five months ago, I would start spending entire evenings reading blogs, sites, and trip reports on the Camino
Five months ago, we still had snow, cold winds and the winter blahs…
Five months ago, I KNEW that I would be, one day, standing on the Camino to take my first journey step

Arriving in Santiago

At the Cathedral, after 500 km walked

I arrived in Santiago on the morning of Friday June 10th. 28 days from my first steps on the Camino in Burgos. Parts of the Camino feel like dreams, and others are so vivid, I can feel the wind on my face, the farm road sand under my feet and my pack on my back. Walking by sweet smelling flowers throws me right back to glorious bushes of large sweet roses adorning the front houses and gardens. I feel the sun on my face and I can remember the endless sun and how comforting it was on colder days.

Faces appear in my mind, randomly through the day. Of course, Team Nestor and little Nestor himself are often pictured in my mind, as well as so many others that I met during this incredible journey. I think of the “angels” who helped me while I was in need – – the dentist. the doctor, the physical therapist, Father Doctor, and all the pilgrims who comforted me, helped me, befriended me; I will always remember you.

A month ago, I set foot in front of the Cathedral and became speechless at the beauty of this church and the emotional moment
A month ago, I had set out, day after day, after day walking, walking and walking… and learning, and experiencing, and adoring, and thinking, and sharing, and caring…
A month ago, my world revolved around daily new experiences, new feelings, new discoveries… and old memories, forgotten moments that came to life in my mind, comforting thoughts and whispers of the past.
A month ago, I wondered how it would be, returning to my old life with new eyes

And today, I ponder on those two time periods. Five months ago and one month ago. I saw my solid dream turn into reality and happen, and then finish.
I left not knowing what to expect and returned blessed and cherishing each moment on that Camino. I returned changed, in many ways I may not even understand, and I believe it’s a change for the best.

Knowing how fast things can happen, part of my mind wants to think little thoughts for a while, and give myself the time needed to at least make some effort to collect all my little bits of paper, little pages of thoughts, pictures, one liners, long pages and try to map out the story. I still have things I would like to experience, and perhaps some of those will get to happen within the next year.

I am in no rush – – I am enjoying the challenges of re-integrating into large groups and I try to let my memories come back in their own time.
If nothing else, I learned to just “be”.
I’m loving just “being”…!

Seeing things differently

I noticed that my eyes see differently. I
When we visited the last cemetery yesterday, we were amazed at all the old zinc statues and headstones.

When I used to visit cemeteries I would look for unusual headstones or plaques but for esthetic purposes only. I found myself , of late, really thinking more about the potential stories of the families, the history etc.

I have much more interest in the background of things than the things themselves now. My sense of observation has increased so much since the Camino. Perhaps it was based on the fact that I had so much more time to think about whatever I was observing. Perhaps it was the lack of so many distractions that kept me from extensive observation.

Whatever the reason(s), I now feel my experiences will be much fuller !