Divine nods

I believe in signs.

Since I avoid walking under ladders and throw spilled salt over my left shoulder, I probably should. But deciding to take a seven-week journey halfway around the world makes me look for affirmations—Divine nods—that I’m making the right choices.

Maybe I shouldn’t put this in print, but things are going really well.


I bought my airfare! I have a flight to Dublin and will soon purchase connections to Santiago and Biarritz. Oh, my Lord, was that scary! At my request, Mary held my hand in support as I clicked “purchase,” and now it’s done. I’m going! Good sign? The price jumped up the day after I purchased and hasn’t gone down since. Granted, I know there’s a corporate algorithm that makes this happen, but signs are in the eye of the beholder. (And, in case you’re wondering, the fare was $1077 from PDX to DUB.)


Second, after a few emails and a Skype call to talk about details, Muriel emailed me last week to confirm that she will be arriving in Pamplona for us to cross the Pyrenees together. “Just in time for pintxos,” she wrote. I am beside myself with glee that this sage soul and I will walk together over those mountains while having deep talks and laughs about life.

I feel the need to knock wood right now!

Camino connections!

Third, I’ve met three separate people in two weeks who have Camino dreams. Totally random places. Totally joyful conversations. I encouraged them to trust the call they hear. “Our meeting was not a coincidence,” one said gratefully. Exactly my point.

More Camino connections!

Fourth, a local peregrina friend invited me to attend a huge Camino-themed holiday potluck put on by the Portlandia Chapter of APOC. Our hour-long car ride was fun and meaningful (why have we not done this before?). As an introvert, groups overwhelm me, and I feared sitting alone awkwardly with no one to talk to.  I should not have worried! We pilgrims know how to connect with almost anyone. More than one hundred people were in attendance and at least half had walked the Camino. One peregrina I met had completed her pilgrimage a mere month before. Her sparkling eyes and relaxed jaw reminded me: you too will feel this way soon.


Fifth, two of my favorite Camino bloggers, Nadine and Elissa, both did Caminos this past summer. Both have been in post-pilgrimage processing mode and understandably quiet since they returned. In the last few weeks, they’ve both come out of the woods, reaching out and writing. This delights me as I’ve missed them (while understanding the need to take time to process the journey) and look forward to more reading and connecting with them both.

A draft!

Sixth, I spent time at my favorite mountain retreat center for five days of writing and—lo and behold—I finished a very rough draft of my Camino book. Good omen? You bet!

Happy knees!

Seventh (it just keeps going!!), I saw my awesome doc last week to talk about my knee progress. She didn’t say a word about hobbies or hiking. Instead, she was really encouraging and thrilled to hear that the supplements and exercises are working. I’m thrilled too. I’m not pain-free, but the pain is less and bearable. Now if I could just stop eating holiday goodies (I just learned how to make my own egg nog chai), I might make progress on the weight-loss side of things I’d be even happier. All in all, I’m thrilled my body is healing!

A serious one!

Finally, there is one sign I’m still sorting out. Since my post about risks on the Camino, the world’s axis seems to have shifted a few degrees in the wake of inexplicable violence. More than one caring person in my life has questioned whether it’s safe to travel in Europe right now. The US government advises caution. Here’s what I know in my gut: If I change my life or plans one iota because of fear, the evil side wins.

I mention this issue because signs don’t always confirm what we want to hear. Sometimes they challenge us to question how devoted we are to our call. Are you ready, they ask. Are you sure you’re up for the risks? Are you willing to lose others’ respect, your comfort, even your life to follow your heart? 

Yes. I am. Like life, the Camino may not be bed of rose petals, but nothing worth loving ever is. I’m trusting my conviction as a Divine nod—and proceeding with willingness, caution, and joy. May you do the same in order to follow what you love.

11 thoughts on “Divine nods

  1. Warm feelings to you. Of course don’t fear. Terrorists got cha then. Enjoy all and Jim and I pray for your wonderful trip I hope we follow soon after. He’s dealing with knees and etc. What a blessing to do it again It will be interesting to go over the Pyrenees backwards! Not really backwards just a point or view. Maybe you can stay at the little place above St. Jean Pied de Port. Orisson nice looking alberque

    1. Thank you for the encouragement and prayers, Cheryl (and Jim!). I would love to hear more about your upcoming plans and maybe we can swap knee strategies. Depending on which route we take, Orrison might be just what we need. I took the Valcarlos route in 2013 and was able to stop at the albergue halfway to Roncesvalles–saved my bacon, it did! Sending HUGE hugs to you both! ❤

  2. I will so enjoy those pintxos !
    Everybody here move as usual, no difference at all. People sit in cafes, travel, go to work even in big cities… and make plans for pintxos ! As anything can happen anywhere just be confident in life.

    1. The French people have seen it all and know how to live. My fellow Americans would do well to follow your country’s lead, Muriel! Together we will savor life and snacks! Salut! ❤

  3. Jen, I understand your last paragraph talking about fear, but you are spot on –we cannot let fear undermine our lives or we are not living. My son is walking with his finance this spring as well as traveling around Europe for a few months. Being smart, knowing your whereabouts, etc. is the best any of us can do anywhere to include our daily life. I am sorry people are attempting to place some fear in your heart about this trip. When we are called, we must let go of our fear and do that thing that is calling us. Blessings to you and I am excited to read all about your next journey on the Camino.

    1. Your words of validation and encouragement mean the world to me. I love how you can see the importance of risk and trust, even with your own son. I’m sure that’s not easy for a mom! Nervous loved ones have good intentions, so I’m grateful to them, but our words are a testament and yet another Divine nod on my path. For this and your many other inspiring comments, I thank you. ❤

  4. There’s no way you can’t do this. It’s your calling and you know it. It feels the same as when Don and I got the clear urge to sell our home and belongings and become nomads. There’s no questioning it is there?! I’m almost jealous, except we have 5 months in San Miguel de Allende coming up – to rest and reconnect with what’s wanted next.
    Bravely forward ho!
    Alison ❤

    1. Oh wow. I really hope that you plan to blog about THAT journey, Alison! 🙂 Thank you for the validation and encouragement. I guess you can question, but ignore a calling at your own risk. ❤

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