What!? Why? By yourself?!? How?

These are the most common questions I have been asked about this Camino.  Here is the long story about how this came to be.

I believe it was the spring of 2001.  I know it was a spring, as the magazine article I read came in a free magazine handed out at the L.A. Religious Education Congress and that is always in early spring.  And I’m pretty sure it was 2001 because that was the semester before I studied abroad.  I vaguely recall having considered walking the Camino at some point during the summer after I studied abroad, but figured as long as I was in Europe I should see as many countries as possible and not just spend over a month in one.

So the magazine article piqued my interest – a whole month with nothing to do but walk and spend time in prayer.  It spoke to my desire for simplicity and also for purpose.  It was a very simple purpose, but it was well defined – wake up, walk, eat, walk, sleep, do it again!  But, the timing wasn’t right.

Fast forward 10+ years.  Hanging out with fellow volunteers at the pub after teaching Sunday school one evening, a friend who taught at a different church stopped in and shared that Fr. Christopher Roberts was going on pilgrimage to Santiago summer 2013.  She was just sharing something she had heard at work, but I heard the answer to a long-held dream.  Forty-sever pilgrims ended up on that trip last summer, walking the Camino Ingles and then continuing on to Fatima and Santarem in Portugal.  It was amazing in many, many ways.  I carried with me the prayer intentions of friends and acquaintances and had the most grace-filled experience I had encountered in a long time. It was such a blessing to carry the prayers and concerns of others and it was very hard to return to reality.

That fall, I began a new nanny job that was not very fulfilling and I was, quite honestly, miserable at times.  The long winter didn’t help, and I spent many hours wistfully thinking about the lovely walks in the beautiful weather we had experienced.  I began to research other Caminos and decided that if I were to go again, I would like the Norte/Primitivo route instead of the French Way (the most common route) due to it being less trafficked and partly along the Atlantic Coast.

It was at this point that I began to apply for other jobs.  One looked promising, but would start in July.  I checked to see if my frequent flyer miles were valid in June and they weren’t.  Then I took a temporary job in Michigan for the summer and thought that perhaps I could go in August when summer was over.  But, again, no tickets were available.  So, I shelved the idea, praying that when the Lord wanted me to walk with Him for 500 miles, He would make a way for it to happen.

Summer was wonderful and as it drew to a close, I looked for jobs back home.  Many looked promising, but all ended up falling through.  Then, less than two weeks ago, the thought popped into my head to check my frequent flyer miles and see if they were valid now.  And they were.  And everyone I asked to dissuade me ended up encouraging me instead.  I do have some savings, plus amazon gift cards from credit card points to use for supplies, plus the frequent flyer miles, of course, which meant that my ticket (plus travel insurance) came to less than $200.  All the ducks lined up, so I bought the ticket last Thursday (September 18) and I leave for Madrid next Monday (September 29).

Short story:

what: hiking the Camino

why: it has been a dream since college and the Lord opened the doors

by yourself: technically, yes, but there are always other pilgrims on their way, so I won’t be alone

how: frequent flyer miles, credit card points, summer savings, my two favorite shirts, and a deep breath before I clicked the ‘confirm’ button to purchase the airplane tickets!

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