There are two sayings in French…ok, definitely a lot more than just two sayings, but I’m just contemplating these two…

Avoir courage

Avoir coeur

Now you might think that the first saying means to be brave and the second to have heart, and you would be incorrect.

The French in their linguistic logic have the opposite meaning for those two phrases. In fact avoir courage carries a connotation of having fortitude, the wherewithal to keep going.

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage and being brave. This is the eve of the beginning of the Camino. For the past week I’ve been waking up with an upset stomach just thinking about this day. I know these are butterflies of fear and I am afraid of this mysterious walk that lies ahead.

Today we are in Bayonne, France and we leave in an hour and a half for St. Jean Pied de Port the departure point for the Camino Frances. We had lunch in the park, a sandwich made with Bayonne ham and a bottle of cider. I struck up a conversation with the woman next to us who was out for a walk with her dog. I love dogs and can’t help myself when I get the chance to pet one. Ok, plus I’m talkative 😉

During our chat she asked if we were on vacation and I told her we were on our way to walk the Camino. As we parted she waved and said, “Bon Courage!” For a moment fear grabbed ahold of me but then I remembered she was wishing me the will, the heart to carry on. And that has been the crux of my fear. Can I carry on?

Truthfully the answer is neither I nor anyone else knows if I’ll have the heart to persevere. But I do know this, I will face that fear tomorrow and probably every day on the Camino. And that’s ok because it’s not brave to do something you’re not afraid of.

Bon Courage!

The mountains in the distance is where we will be tomorrow.

My sign-in at the Pilgrim’s Information Center. It looks shaky because the pen wasn’t very good.

Published by michelleperram

I am me, a person with love for others, a passion to be creative, and a desire to be a cheerleader for others. I’m a wife, a mommy, and a grandma (you can call me by my grandma name “Lady M”). I’m on a search to grow and connect more fully with God. I didn’t grow up particularly church, married a man who had, and we raised our three daughters in the church. I found a place to belong in the church and somehow discerned a call to go to seminary. I received a Masters of Arts and Religious Communication (MARC). I went on to become ordained as a deacon in the United Methodist Church and served in media ministry and Christian education. As clergy I found that I didn’t have a place to belong in the church so I left the United Methodist Church in 2010. I still believe and I’m still on a quest to draw closer to God. And I’m going to walk the Camino de Santiago.


  1. Thank you for sharing honestly how you are feeling. Can’t wait to hear about your first steps on the trail to this adventure.

  2. Buen Camino, mi amigo! You will settle in and have a magical pilgrimage Even when times don’t seem so magical, you will look back in hindsight and appreciate every struggle. I am already yearning to return.

    I also had horrible anxiety before starting. For some of us, it is part of our journey. Take your time & enjoy.

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