Blessed are you, pilgrim

All of us stand in a line under the eaves of this outdoor pavilion—some wearing backpacks, others excited expressions—anticipating our imminent departure on pilgrimage.

We face a row of smiling pilgrims holding laminated sheets of paper.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you find that the Camino opens your eyes to the unseen.

Kind faces and clear voices read these benedictions aloud for all to hear.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, if your backpack empties of things, as your heart doesn’t know how to fit so many emotions.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you discover that a step backwards to help another is more valuable than a hundred forward without awareness of those at your side.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, when you have no words to give thanks for all the wonders in every nook of the Camino.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you search for the truth and make of your Camino a life, and of your life a Camino. 

Blessed are you, pilgrim, because you have discovered that the true Camino begins at its end.

Here, in the middle of a Portland park, we call to the Divine who is always in our midst and bless each other. This is holy ground. Every step is. Nancy grins at me.

And, then a woman presents the box of scallop shells tied with red cords.

One by one, our host calls our names. I step forward.

Jennifer, receive this scallop shell, the badge of the pilgrim, that all may recognize you as a pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela.

I accept the shell and shake his hand. My eyes mist.


The whole company cheers, and I grin and fight tears. This. This moment means everything. I’ve been commissioned, blessed, and sent. Now the only thing to do is walk.

(Eight days to go!)

10 thoughts on “Blessed are you, pilgrim

    1. Muchas gracias, my sweet friend. You are a Camino angel to me–over these months of preparation your encouragement and support have meant more than I can express. ♡

  1. Jen,
    I will miss reading your blog posts while you are on the road but I wholeheartedly salute you on your journey. Buen Camino to you, friend! May the road rise to meet you and may the wind be always at your back! Enjoy plenty of (very affordable!) vino tinto for all of us 🙂

  2. Hi Jen, I came across your blog as I prepare for my own Camino in Aug/Sep. I have laughed and cried while reading all of your posts. Your writing is clear, concise and poignant (I look forward to your book!).

    In my frantic world I am afraid I will miss your final post before you leave so thought I would send you a note now. I wish you well on your journey. I hope there are many moments that feed your soul and bring you calm, peace and joy. I guess your blog has taught me the Camino is also about who you don’t actually ‘meet’ along the Way but about having shared a life changing journey. Buen Camino my friend.

    May you be filled with loving kindness.
    May you be well.
    May you be peaceful and at ease.
    May you be happy.
    Om. Peace. Peace.
    Andrea SSI BC

    1. Andrea, thank you so much for this. That my writing has helped you prepare for your own journey–especially the non-visible, inner way–means the world to me to know. Thank you for the blessing. And I wish you a buen Camino as well as you prepare body, heart, and soul to walk toward that persnickety saint. ❤

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