After two years of thinking that walking the Camino de Santiago once should be enough for anyone for a lifetime . . . After six months (at least) of actively resisting a clear call to return, I’m finally saying aloud (or writing, if you want to be literal) it’s going to happen, God willing.
When I first heard the call, it was a tiny little whisper that said, Go back.
“Nonono!” My inner control freak raged. “No! Not doing it!”
I’ve been chewing on it ever since. Mostly, I’ve thought a lot about ancient pilgrims who, without the aid of modern travel, got to Santiago (or even earlier, Finisterre), spent a few days or weeks celebrating, then turned around to start walking home again. This walk back was an entirely separate journey! Even the Iliad has the Odyssey — the story of return.
After sitting in discernment (okay, actively arguing with Whoever Does The Calling), I began to realize that my next walk isn’t to repeat the journey in the same order. I’m not going back to Saint Jean Pied de Port. My call is to begin at the end and walk to the beginning. I hope to start in Finisterre and then walk back — to Santiago at least, but maybe farther — as far as I need to go.
The reason why I want to answer this call is the symmetry of it. “To arrive where we started,” as T.S. Eliot famously wrote, “and know the place for the first time.” Just as ancient pilgrims did, I’m intrigued by the possibility of revisiting so many powerful places of personal significance to me. Even though I’ve had closure on the intense feelings and have integrated many experiences the Camino brought up, I want to stand on the piece of earth where I woke up. I want to walk that sacred ground again, remember, and resolve on a very deep level to keep being the person I discovered there.
My resistance has been about time and money, of course, and conflicting travel desires. It’s also about control and not trusting the process. I’ve not written about it until now because of the fear it brings up. I didn’t want to say anything until I said Yes. Unlike the first journey, the logistics of this call are about walking against the stream, very likely alone, and with much less clear direction (no yellow arrows!). After the camaraderie of my Camino, this sounds like a very lonely experience. My mind can be my worst enemy out there all alone.
On the other hand, just like my first Camino, answering the call gave me exactly what I needed. I received many more gifts than I could ever have imagined. I don’t know how many times the Divine needs to bonk me on the head with this lesson, but eventually I’d like to believe with all my heart that answering with an unhesitating YES will give me exactly what I need to grow and evolve. In the never-ending duel between trust and control, I want to choose trust.
So here I go. Again. I’m preparing to walk the Camino.
Can I get a witness?
Want to know more about why I’m doing the Camino in reverse — and how you can help? Read on!