In September this year, I will join the Camino de Santiago. The pilgrims' way across the North of Spain is an 800 kilometre road that has been traversed for over a thousand years by people of all faiths and beliefs. It is a path that is revered by millions of peregrinos who have walked in search of meaning, redemption, and healing. I, too, am in search of the magic that the Camino holds within its sacred earth.
Almost twenty years ago, I ended up in Santiago de Compostela at the completion of a hiking trip in the French Pyrenees. In fact, my companions hiked, and I just did my best to keep up. I was never a natural climber, but I loved to ramble. After weeks of camping, driving, climbing, walking and bussing across Galicia, we stumbled into Santiago by train and made the trek down the hill into the town centre, marked by the breathtaking Cathedral. As we walked through the medieval city gates, we were flanked by loads of weary looking people wearing scallop shells around their necks and carrying tall sticks. Pilgrims. Everywhere.
Many people speak of the power of Love that rises up from the Camino, beginning at the foot of the French Pyrenees and ending on the Galician coast. The Way is not always pretty, nor easy, nor scenic. But neither is Love. I feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity to walk for almost 30 continuous days in one direction. Every day a new day, new scenery, new friends, new food, new beds, new locals....how often do we get such a precious chance to see life through fresh eyes EVERY day? Actually, we do get this chance EVERY day. It only occurred to me over this past weekend that this is exactly what life gives us...EVERY day. I had just forgotten to see it like that.
The urge to walk the Camino this year was borne not only out of a desire for spiritual growth, but also out of frustration with life seeming to be more of the same, day in day out. The daily grind is what really pushed me towards taking this hiatus from the everyday blah. But I now think that Spirit has sent it as a "wake up"! Paradoxically, a renewed appreciation for my somewhat stable and predictable life has started to grow as I contemplate being apart from those I love dearest, from the comfort of my familiar surrounds, from my daily commute to a rewarding job....somehow "blah" doesn't feel so blah anymore. Isn't it funny how life works!
In preparation for my Camino experience, I have been avidly reading the accounts of others that have walked before me. Most people express that what blindsides them along the Way is the kindness of strangers. Simple, random and frequent gestures of love, for no other reason than to ease another's burden. I realise that Reiki is the gift that I have to offer others as I move along the Camino, I know that by giving Reiki to tired and deserving pilgrims, I will in turn receive the Love that I will need to sustain me through my certain homesickness, fatigue and soreness. As is always the case with true service, we always receive more than we give, because we end up supercharged by universal Love. What could be better?