Tomorrow I’m leaving for Oviedo on the Spanish west coast to start my walk on the Camino Primitivo – the oldest part of this ancient pilgrimage path. It will take me 320 kilometres through the mountains and to Santiago which I hope to reach during the first week of August.
People often ask me why its now the eighth time that I’m walking sections of the Camino which I first walked in 2006 at a time in my life when I was at the crossroads of making difficult relationship and career decisions.
From personal experience and the many interesting conversations I’ve had with fellow pilgrims on the Way, the Camino is and will remain a mystery. During the Middle Ages it was mainly a religious pilgrimage. At least one member of the family was expected to walk the Camino to repent on behalf of all the other family members.
Today the motives why people walk the Camino are different with every individual. But there are few people I know. including myself, whose lives have not been deeply affected while walking the Camino.
“This is just a hike and I certainly know nicer places. I don’t even know why I’m doing this,” a grunty man said to me on one of the walks. After many days of walking with blisters, a hurt knee and other physical afflictions, I noticed him retreating more and more into inner solitude. Its what we all learn on the Way. The Camino teaches us to be humble in more ways than one.
Part of the Camino fascination is that you meet people from all walks of life from many different nationalities and age groups. The personal motivation why people decide to walk 20-25 kilometres per day for several weeks are often deeply moving, in many cases after going through traumatic and life-changing events where answers are being sought.
I’ve walked alone, led small groups, did a longer walk with a good friend, walked with my wife. Each of those walks was rich and beautiful in its own right.
Even when you walk with a partner, a family member or a good friend, I would advise to walk sections alone. It is this alone time when the deepest experiences are made. This is about finding that inner rhythm and alignment that gets diluted in the daily rat race of information overload and the challenges of just living life. And what I find most importantly, nurturing ones own inner and authentic spirituality.
Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author