What do you say after your bags are packed, money is transferred for two months of bills, the boarding passes are printed, and you have tomorrow’s clothes in a neatly-folded pile waiting to be worn before the sun is up?

What does it mean to shed a house-worth of stuff, two jobs, countless names and roles, so that everything left fits into a fifteen-pound pack?

Honestly, the only thing I can think is that it’s a little bit like what death must be like. A final parting wave and then—nothing. No roles. No to-dos. No more appointments. And perhaps, the same promise of unending joy. Don’t we all eventually run out of time? This feels like a practice run.

When you go, those who are left get a chance to say how much you were loved, how much you gave, and what a difference you made while you were here. I leave in less than twelve hours, but for weeks  I’ve heard things like, “You’re so inspiring!” and “We’re going to miss you.” and “May you be blessed on this journey and find everything you’re seeking.” and “I love you.” Something about my departure is inspiring loved ones to pause and say the heartfelt things we don’t usually. Me too.

Why do I wait? Why do we hold back? I want to remember this poignancy every day: Speak from the heart. Tell the truth. Take the risk.

In the end, there’s nothing left but love. None of the stuff matters.

Here’s what I know: the spaciousness of the days ahead call to me. The friends I’ve yet to meet are out there already walking towards Santiago. The Holy Door is open, waiting for me to walk through and receive mercy. And after, there will be only weeks of days of walking in reflection, in joy, and in occasional confusion as I find my way in reverse.

And when the walking is done, I will have a home to come to, a devoted wife (who, by the way, will update my blog with excerpts from my emails home), and many loves and interests and good work to do. I’m excited to finally see and understand down to my bones that the pilgrimage truly doesn’t end. Only the venue changes.

Think of me in your prayers, and I will do the same. Until next time.

Buen camino, y’all.


7 thoughts on “Leaving

  1. Hi Jen, I didn’t want to read this post fearing it was your last for a long while. I’m happy that we will get snippets when you are en route. I am down to the last couple chapters of “What the Psychic told the Pilgrim”. It’s enough to scare the pants off me! But I have made my reservation for Orisson for my first night (decided not to stay in SJPD) and will book my Paris Biarritz flight tonight or tomorrow. Thought of you as I finished a short hike today. Only about 2 hours but included some elevation with a very like pack. Need to do more serious stuff and definitely some long back-to-back days. Not sure how I’ll cram it all in between now and departure date … But it will happen … It always does somehow.
    Take care. Buen Camino Jen.

  2. Buen Camino! You did a fantastic job verbalising the feeling of leaving for the Camino. A bit like death….saying your goodbyes, no more to do lists….I got flashbacks of my Camino departures. A scary but beautiful camino. I have been a very silent but devoted reader of your blog. I will think of you and pray for you. I am so looking forward to your stories of this, presumably very different, Camino experience. Ultreia!

  3. Jen, we’ve connected before (electronically) after I finished my CF in 2014. Excited to see you’re embarking on another journey. You’ll be in my prayers and I look forward to hearing about your amazing adventures of just living daily life in the “present” that the Camino seems to offer on a regular basis. Ultreia et suseia! Jonathan

  4. Buen camino. I will be walking (forward) 🙂 the stretch between Estella and Ponferrada beginning on May 25th. Perhaps our paths will cross. I’ll be sure to NOT be the one to tell you that you are going the wrong way! Ultreya!!

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