Each year about 250,000 people walk the Camino de Santiago. The majority of those are European, more than 90%. About 5% are Americans, that’s about 12,500. The population of the United States is 325 million.
That means that about .0008% of the US population walk the Camino each year.
You might think that you would never come across another pilgrim but I have not found that to be true. Two years ago at a 5 Day Academy for Spiritual Formation retreat one of the members in my covenant group was about to embark on the Camino.
Then there was the day in an REI store where I was trying on shoes. I casually mentioned to a woman next to me that we were going on the Camino. She was so excited. She said, “We did that last year!”
Then about six months ago at a session of the 2 Year Academy for Spiritual Formation one of the attendees invited a guest for the week. She was in the room next to mine so we frequently saw each other coming and going and had a chance to talk. I told her that some of us had been talking about the Camino and I was going to do it. She said, “I did the Camino.” We spent a lot of time that week sharing meals and talking about her experience. She had a presentation on her laptop and I helped arrange for her to give a talk to those interested during our free time. She even had a manuscript which she asked me to read. And a few months ago it was published on amazon.
Click here to see Sarah’s book on Amazon
Full disclosure-Sarah gave me a copy of her book after I read her manuscript.
This Memorial Day weekend my husband and I decided to take a trip to Lexington to do some hiking. Going through the breakfast line I was chatting with a woman and I mention we were going hiking, training for the Camino. She said, “I did the Camino in 2008. You’re going to have a blast!” She told me all about their pilgrimage and sent me some of her photos. I’m looking forward to exchanging more emails with her.￼
These fellow pilgrims have been a source of comfort and edification to me. There’s a certain shared experience that they are all anxious to tell. They know that this is going to be an experience like no other for me. They all reassure me that I will make it through this journey and that it will change me.
It’s as if camino pilgrims are meant to find each other.