As I’ve sat down to continue writing my book about walking the Camino Frances to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, I realised that this day exactly two years ago was my first full day back at home after being away from my family for 35 days. It feels a long time ago and that my journey of self discovery has continued.
After walking over 800 kms everyday for 32 consecutive days, it took several weeks for the pain in my feet to subside, which had learnt to walk and move themselves. When I gave them the well-earned rest they deserved, it was as if all the pain that I’d ignored had to release through a persistent gnawing ache.
I met my husband in Geneva airport for a brief yet momentary 10 hours before he flew to Russia and I travelled home to find my girls, Dad and a huge welcome home banner adorning the front of our house.
Dazed and emotional these three people looked after me with loving gestures and affection during my first week back into real life. My body couldn’t accept not moving, my brain resisted organizing daily routines and the materialism of how much stuff we simply fill our lives with was everywhere. What to wear? I had so many clothes to choose from. The array of colours, styles and combinations felt like a new experience for me.
I found a journal entry I wrote several days later about how ‘a week ago I was walking the final leg of the Camino Frances! This I find astonishing! The intervening days have passed by with a range of feelings and moods.
The pain in my feet continues and the faces of the people I met come in and out of focus as I drift into a chaotic but badly needed sleep.
Similarly images of the road surfaces I tramped and the countryside I lived in have been a frequent slideshow during the last week.
It has taken this amount of time to feel willing to actually write my final blogpost, despite constructing many sentences of how to conclude this adventure. This will represent the end of my physical journey and that it’s time to resume life here in France.’
It wasn’t surprising that the above didn’t make it as my final blogpost. I couldn’t do it – end the adventure and put it to bed. So I did one of the most stressful things you can do and moved house!
I’d signed the contract the day before I left on 29th March and now began the epic task of packing up a family home to move 500 metres to our newly purchased but in need of renovation home.
So I distracted myself and just kept thinking about my Camino walk in my head. Maybe that is why it is still easy two years on to write about it and remember all the big and small details which made up my days, experiences and adventure?
During the first week back to reality, I remember feeling more connected to the present moment and living in the now than I’d done in years, maybe since I was a carefree teenager….Details, car keys, future tasks, events were all relayed to me without anxiety or repetition. I was listening and connected but my focus was beyond and outside the everyday. I was observing all that was going on around me whilst being detached. I recognized how different this felt compared to my normal organizing, in control behaviour and to the orderly way I lived life, that I wrote; ‘it will be interesting to see if and how long I maintain this.’
Sure enough planning a new kitchen, sandblasting, painting etc etc demanded my attention and life went back to normal, but now as I write watching spring green leaves flutter and hear bird song from the open window, I feel that same sense of joy, hope and enjoyment of right now.
And as the rain has finally stopped and the clouds speed over the patch of blue sky, my wellies and a walk in nature call me before the homework, dinner and time with my family.
The Walking Pilgrim
With scarce belongings on your back
And enormous heritage in your soul
Free from material things,
You greet many people
And love even more,
Free from material things,
You smile to all,
And give away good wishes.
This is how you will climb and climb,
Feet firmly on the ground,
Walking to your dream.
Pilgrim, walk in freedom,
Walk without your belongings;
Pilgrim, always towards your destination,
But never alone.
You encounter many in your way,
And they remain forever in your heart.
You carry them in your rose-scented hands,
With which you give not only objects
But also joy.
Pilgrim, may God remain forever
Wherever you transit.
A poem from a church on the Camino