I’M GOING TO WALK THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

I started planning for this journey over a year ago and posted this very first post last February. Since then many people have contacted and encouraged me along the way. The two questions I get all the time are:

1. How did you decide to do this?

2. Why are you doing this?

I’m reposting the answer to the first and as to the second, I’m still working on it.

🎒 🎒🎒🎒

I’m going to walk the Camino de Santiago. And today I’m starting my blog about it. Actually I started this blog in my head about six months ago, but today I am finally putting words to paper (screen?).

I saw the movie The Way when it first came out. That’s a prerequisite for walking the camino, right? I thought it was a great movie and while I got all the symbolism of the journey somehow I didn’t really understand that the Camino is a real thing. So I didn’t much think about it other than to recommend it as a good movie.

Then two years ago I was at a spiritual retreat in Georgia called The Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation*. One of the guys in my covenant group told us he was going to walk the Camino and that’s when I learned it really is a thing people do. But I didn’t think about doing it.

Then six months ago I was at another spiritual retreat, The Two Year Academy for Spiritual Formation (because five days wasn’t enough) and over lunch the topic of the Camino came up and a little seed was planted.

At the end of that retreat I came home and told my husband about it and he said, “That’s a great idea. We should do that.” And I thought why doesn’t he ever say that when I suggest couple’s pedicures? So we talked about it. In fact it’s all we talked about for almost two weeks. What would we need? When would we go? How long would it take? How would we plan? It was “all camino, all the time”.

We slowed down a bit on the excited talking/planning but didn’t stop completely. Finally after two months of this I asked, “ Are we really going to do this?” And my husband said, “I think we are.”

*For more information about the Five Day & Two Year Academy for Spiritual go to academy.upperroom.org

I CHANGED MY MIND

I am convinced that every woman who has ever been pregnant with her first child has said sometime in her 8th month, “I changed my mind. I’m not going to do this.” But of course by then it’s too late. That baby is on her way and there’s no getting out of getting her out.

I changed my mind. I’m not doing this camino. Of course as much as I want to say that, I can’t because it’s too late.

Tickets have been bought.

Reservations have been made.

Equipment has been bought, discarded, lost, replaced, and packed.

Questions have been pondered, discussed, researched, and worried over.

Miles have been walked.

Lunges, squats, and crunches have been done.

Blisters have rubbed raw and healed.

Sunburns have peeled and been soothed.

Muscles have been stretched and eased.

Ankles, knees, and backs have been iced and rubbed.

Prayers have been offered up.

As I look over all these reasons why I can’t back out I’m most struck by the second half of the list. Sure a lot of money has been invested, but I’m realizing how much I’ve invested in me…my body, my mind, and my spirit.

I suppose I could still change my mind, but I don’t really want to. I started my camino almost a year ago and I’m not done yet.

CONFESSION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL

I have been preparing for the Camino for almost a year now. I have been working out, researching what to take on the Camino, packing, unpacking & repacking my pack, reading memoirs & guidebooks for the Camino, shopping & bothering sales clerks at REI, and I know there are still dozens of things I need to do to be prepared.

My physical preparation has consisted of walking at least 5 days a week for anywhere between 2-8 miles, two cardio/strength classes, and a yoga class. I resolved to up my game this current month by walking 5-8 miles each day.

What is it they say about good intentions and a road to hell?

Six weeks ago I quit going to the gym, but I was still walking a couple of days a week. Then 3 weeks ago I stopped doing even a small amount of walking. In fact I’ve hardly left my house for the last three weeks. Every day I put clothes out to go to the gym or I promise myself I will at least take my little dog out for a walk, but I don’t do any of those things. I think I have hit the proverbial wall.

But maybe I’m turning a corner on that. Two days ago I ran into one of the women from my cardio class and she seemed to happy to see me. She asked about my trip and I had to tell her we haven’t left yet. Then I started telling her how I had stopped all my training and don’t even leave the house unless I absolutely have to. It was just pouring out, but at least I didn’t cry. She didn’t judge or try to minimize my fears. She just told me I was missed and she wanted me to come back to class.

So today I went back to the gym. I was greeted by so many people who thought I had been gone on the Camino and wanted to hear all about my adventure. I didn’t know what to say.

So I confessed.

And confessed

And confessed

And then class started. I worked and ran and lifted weights and made it through the hour.

I think that confessing and being vulnerable in that community of great women gave me strength to keep going. I don’t know that I’ve completely broken down the wall, but I definitely think a few bricks were loosened.

Confession is good for the soul.

And the feet

And the legs

And the arms

And the back

CHOOSE A PATH

I’ve been walking a lot around my town. Sometimes I walk to the library, sometimes to the grocery, sometimes through the metro park, ok and sometimes to the ice cream shop

🍦🍨🍦🍨😋

I know these roads like the back of my hand. I know how long it will take to reach my destination. I like the comfort of knowing where I am and how to get home, everything is really familiar. The Camino is an unknown. Everyday will be a different path. Everyday will require making the same decisions but with different results.

Isn’t everything in life like that? Just when things seem in place something or someone new comes along. You meet a new person that you think you’d like to be friends with and you have to begin learning all the basics, testing the boundaries seeing what you have in common and if your differences add to or detract from the friendship. It’s a path fraught with uncertainty and feels uncomfortable.

It’s like eating Thai food for the first time. How hot is a number 3, and just what is in that sushi??? Should I use the chopsticks or ask for a fork and knife? Will I embarrass myself? For Pete’s sake I just want to eat. It shouldn’t be this complicated.

Robert Frost says in his poem The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

But even Frost says he only chose one path and can’t really compare the two.

Matthew. 14:28-33 tells us the story of Jesus walking on the water. I think of it more as the story of Peter walking on the water because let’s face it, this isn’t Jesus’ first miracle or even his first time walking on water. And it is about taking a really different path. So here’s the story…

Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’

I believe Peter has not really thought through the implications of his request.

He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat,

I’m sure that when Jesus told Peter to come, Peter looked over the edge of the boat and had an “Oh 💩” moment. He probably took some deep breaths and some not so gentle ribbing from the rest of the disciples in the boat. Maybe he even stuck a toe in the water to see if it was more solid than it looked. Well the story tells us that eventually he got out of the boat.

…and started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus.

But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

I probably would have used saltier language. Then…

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’

Now many folks think of this as a condemnation that Peter has no faith. I prefer to think of it as a parent’s exclamation when a child is afraid taking her first steps…

So I learned a few things while writing and meditating on this post.

1. Life is filled with decisions.

2. You can follow the herd or forge your own trail. There’s nothing inherently good or bad about either choice.

3. If you get into trouble things will probably still work out ok. Don’t beat yourself up because others are rooting for you.

And I guess if I get lost on the Camino I can always wander around singing Lady Gaga songs until I’m found…

PSALM 139

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I think of that verse every day when I get up. Before my coffee and a little makeup it’s on the fearful side, but after those I can at least move toward something akin to wonderful.

This post falls under the category of “what is wrong with this woman?”

I grew up a plain dumpy little girl in homemade clothes, sensible shoes, and certainly no makeup.

I think God meant for me to be a mommy to three girls. When they were little I loved dressing them in glittery clothes, light up sneakers, and lots of animal prints. I was born to unleash those girls to be extra wonderful and I reveled in it.

As they grew I allowed myself to dip my toes in to the waters of sparkly clothes, high heeled shoes, eyeliner, and bright pink lipstick. I even indulge in the occasional mani/pedi.

Granddaughter on the left – Lady M on the right

Shoes by Kate Spade (on sale)

Now as I pack for the Camino I realize that I’ll have no need to ponder the perfect outfit for each day, no need for eyeliner, and certainly not my Kate Spade’s. The Camino is not a catwalk, it’s a pilgrimage and God sees me just as I am. Not a dumpy little girl and not carefully applied lipliner. Just me as I am.

Perhaps some of the earlier verses in Psalm 139 express it best…

1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me.

2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.

3 You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.

4 Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.

5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.

I thought I was going to walk the Camino to face God, but perhaps I’m meant to just face myself. Perhaps I’m doing that already.

Can I at least pack one lipstick? 💋💄😊

HOW MUCH STUFF DO I NEED?

I think I have pared my back pack down considerably. The last time I weighed it it was 14.96 pounds. Today it is 13.7 pounds. I took out some clothing and some small items that I discovered we had duplicated in our packs. I even took out my Bluetooth keyboard that I bought especially for the Camino to keep my journal with. Removing that did eliminate 5 ounces.

But I’m still worried. I’m worried that I’ll need something and I just won’t have it. And I’m worried that my pack is still too heavy and I’ll have trouble carrying it every day.

So I’m trying to take comfort in the words of two of my favorite philosophers.

“It is when I possess least that I have the fewest worries and the Lord knows that, as far as I can tell, I am more afflicted when there is excess of anything than when there is lack of it; I am not sure if that is the Lord’s doing, but I have noticed that He provides for us immediately.”

Excerpt from The Way of Perfection

Teresa of Avila

16th century Carmelite nun & Spanish mystic

“Your house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.”

George Carlin

Comedian extraordinaire

Click here to hear more from George about stuff

BE SURE TO PACK A CONDOM…OR TWO 😉

Ok get your minds out of the gutter. This post goes under the subject of weird stuff to bring on the Camino.

As you know at the beginning of this trek I wanted shoes/boots with good ankle support and that are waterproof. Over time while the boots I had were comfortable, they were just too heavy so I switched to a breathable, lightweight trail runner.

I really like these shoes but if you’ve been following this blog you’ll know that I had a problem with some ankle deep mud. So I’ve been on a quest to find something to waterproof my shoes without undoing the breathability factor.

At first I thought that maybe I could put my shoe into a plastic bag and secure it with duct tape around my ankle. Perfect, right? Well walking in the bag is a bit slippery so it’s not a good solution.

Then I tried some hospital type shoe covers. These come off easily. I could try to secure them with duct tape but it would take a lot of tape to make them waterproof at the edges.

Then I found what I think is the perfect solution.

CONDOMS! Or to be more precise SHOE CONDOMS*

https://www.google.com/amp/s/nypost.com/2019/05/21/shoe-condoms-are-here-to-protect-your-footwear-this-summer/amp/

You just slip them on over the shoes and…voila! Shoes that are now waterproof.

And unlike regular condoms…these are reusable 😉

*I received no compensation for including this link

IF THE ROCKS WON’T SPEAK UP…

Yesterday we took a 17.4 mile walk and it was the longest walk I’ve ever done with my pack which weighed 14.86 pounds.

Since the rocks didn’t speak to me, my back and legs decided to “weigh” in on this subject. And their decision is…

TAKE THE SMALL ONE!

ROCKIN’ ON THE CAMINO

Today we are rock hunting in Zanesville. There’s a farm there that sits on a huge deposit of flint. We thought that for our rocks to take on the Camino it would be good to bring something special from Ohio.

There is a tradition that pilgrims bring a rock with them on the Camino. Originally the rock symbolized the sins of the pilgrim. This is still true today but the stone can also have other meanings. For some it is a symbol of their presence on the Camino, for others it represents a prayer request, and for still others it is a burden they are coming to grips with. It is also a tradition to leave the rock at the base of the Cruz de Ferro or Iron Cross. The Iron Cross is located at the highest point along the Camino Frances.

Today is an extra good day because our daughters and grandchildren are here with us hunting for rocks, the weather is warm but not sticky, and we’re having a potluck picnic after the rock hunting.

Everyone is having fun and I’m watching them. I keep picking up rocks for myself but I don’t know which is the one to take. Some people say a rock will speak to you but these are silent. Or maybe I’m just not listening hard enough.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the crowd was shouting his name and telling of all the wonderful things he had done. The Pharisees were annoyed by this and they called to Jesus to silence the crowd.

He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

Luke 19:40

I guess the stones in Jerusalem were chattier than the ones in Zanesville 😕

WHAT WILL THE TEMPERATURE BE???

There is a heat wave right now in Europe. It’s been described as hellish, sizzling, and scorching 😩

I took each of my girls to France when they were teenagers and I always remember Paris as being sweltering in July. We stayed with my cousin and her apartment had no air conditioning. This was not good. Leaving the windows open at night when there was some respite from the heat was a double edged sword. Yes it was marginally cooler but the street noise kept us awake and since she had no screens on the windows the aerial assault of mosquitoes was a force to be reckoned with.

🦟🦟🦟🦟😮

I have a weather app in which I entered most of the towns along the Camino. This is a sampling of the temperatures today.

I can only hope that the humidity isn’t that high 🥵