In this Camino Week of mine I was reminded of the BBC programme from a couple of years ago entitled “Pilgrimage: The Road to Santiago”. As someone who has walked the entire Camino from the centre of France, I love to watch and read most things to do with this famous path.
Only a few minutes in though, I had forgotten a very important fact, this was for TV and was going to be more about the individuals than the path itself. I was getting fed up with the moaning and whinging of the participants and their seemingly total lack of awareness of what this was all about. I’m not sure what priest Kate’s briefing was because she seemed surprised she had to walk at all and sleeping in bunks in dormitories didn’t seem to be expected either. Did they not do any research?
People walk the Camino for many reasons. One because they are religious, but many are walking for a challenge or because they are spiritual, and this didn’t get much of a mention. Again, I was shouting at the TV! Is it because I’m not religious? I’m not sure.
I just wanted people to see this great experience in a really wide way and see it being applicable to them. I was fearful that it would put people off but in speaking with contacts who knew very little about it, it didn’t seem to be doing that. I breathed a sigh of relief.
For me, there was too much about these whinging people and not enough about the path itself. The scenery is so beautiful with so many different terrains: hilly, flat, at times straight and unshaded (not my favourite); the churches full of history, gold and amazing architecture; and the traditions and stories abound. But perhaps there just wasn’t time to do all of this? I need to temper my expectations.
One thing I did get to see in all its glory was the view from the Pyrenees, I walked that part in rain and mist. I missed the virgin at the top totally. But in 2018 doing it all again, I saw all the views and it was worth every step.
By the end of the second programme I was ready to give up, and my husband did, but I had to continue, after all I was commenting on this.
Interestingly, the person who kept me sane was Ed Byrne, the only one who was an actual walker. Others grated, and even though I may not have wanted to feel attachment as stories unfolded, I did. Stories are one thing that can surface on a walk such as this and Neil Morrissey’s story of his childhood was raw and beautifully shared. I had tears in my eyes. The photo on the left is courtesy of the BBC Two programme schedule.
I am so glad I stayed with it as in the final programme it really redeemed itself for me. It became more expansive and less about religion. This was the essence of this walk, something for anyone who chooses to walk it, though they do say that the Camino chooses you!!
Everyone had transformation happen which is what the path does for you. Small or large, it doesn’t matter, and I actually ended up feeling really emotional as this group shared theirs.
JJ talked about the fact that he had confusions about his faith and that was an OK place to be. Debbie, in stepping out of a busy and stressful life, had time to listen. This is something some of you reading this might resonate with. Neil talked about having ‘walk enlightenment’ and Ed’s realisation was that he had room in his life for new friends.
Everyone acknowledged that they just weren’t the same people who had started out. And that is the magic of the Camino – of sharing, of walking, of talking and of embracing this path in the best way you can.
I am blessed to take small groups of wonderful women on my favourite sections of this famous path every year. These are transformational walking experiences which provide space for reflection and exploration and, like the celebrities, change happens.
If you would like to have some of this for you then I’d love you to join us. You can find out all the details here and then book in for a commitment free virtual coffee with me so you can ask questions, share thoughts and hear more from me.