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

3 thoughts on “The calling gets stronger…

  1. That’s fascinating – I wondered if you’d get the trekking bug after the Camino! Do you think it’s Camino-specific, or a calling to experience journeys in authentic places anywhere in the world? We saw people this summer at Mt. Washington in NH who were doing the entire Appalacian Mountain chain, peak to peak. I’ve thought the Inca Trail must be a wondrous experience …. There must be so many special places to get immersed in! I am smiling, thinking about you stopping periodically along remote trails, planting geocaches, possibly with little Canada flag pins 🙂

    None likely as well set up for travellers; I assume there is a lot of tenting involved, and not many bunk houses! But I don’t know for sure. So if it’s not merely the march, then is the Camino attraction for the fellowship? I also wonder what returning would be like – not the act of discovering, but remembering. Is the pilgrimage one people do more than once in thier lives? So fascinating, Sylvie!

  2. I sense a spark of unfulfilment in you… perhaps isn’t not JUST the Camino but perhaps the wish to discover many different trails throughout the world – and you have the opportunity NOW to do that. I sense that the Appalachian trail, which you talked about a long time ago, the Inca experience, and even I would guess the Great Wall of China (I see that as a pilgrimage) would be an experience much like the Camino – and then again there is the part of the Camino that you haven’t yet seen.

    I envy you Sylvie, that you have the fortitute, the aptitude, the longing and the ability to make these things happen. We, the other sisters, live vicariously through your adventures – so GO GIRL, GO!! Be a worldly pilgrim…

  3. Dear Sylvie

    So glad you joined the little group on the Camino de Santiago site today! I am looking forward to reading your blog – based on just the above entry I can see I’m going to have to set aside quite some time and a nice cup of coffee once I get started…! My own camino is now just under a year away, I plan to walk it (for the first time) for my next big birthday, arriving in Santiago on the 12th of July 2012. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost booked my ticket and packed my bag – the calling to do this walk is SO strong!! I’ve realised though that part of the journey is to learn how to be patient and so I’m blogging about it, dreaming about it and even finding that other people, who never thought about doing it, are now considering walking with me! Last year I climbed Kilimanjaro and I’m not sure how I’m ever going to be happy to just walk around the block again!

    Lovely to have found another likeminded person out here in cyberspace!

    Kind regards

    Cape Town

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