“Why are you walking the Camino?”
After hearing someone’s name and country of origin, this is the next general question to ask. Yet it is a very personal question to be asked so early on. I never quite knew how deep to go or even how to phrase my reasons entirely. So when people asked I generally told how it worked out for me to come this summer rather than my deeper reasons for walking the Camino. If the question seemed to be asked too flippantly, then I didn’t want to bare my soul to someone I hardly knew. I am a melancholic, after all, and the perfect words never quite seemed to find themselves on my tongue at the appropriate moment.
Despite my reservations, some people were remarkably open about their reasons. One young man I met said that he was walking for redemption. I never asked him what he meant by that but it sounded deep. A young woman was looking for her heart. An older woman said she was walking for forgiveness–to forgive herself or nature…something. One man was walking out of thanksgiving. Others were looking forward to a new stage in their lives or hoping to initiate a change.
I walked the Camino for Love. Naturally, part of me hoped to find “the one” on my walk, implausible though it might be. What I really wanted, though, was to find a deeper love with Jesus. While the Camino is traditionally a pilgrimage to a holy site, modern Camino walkers are typically not walking for religious reasons. They are searching and seeking after something but they don’t fit into neat religious groups. Perhaps I underestimated my fellow walkers, but I didn’t foresee a very interested response if I said I was walking across Spain so that I could fall deeper in love with the Lord.
While part of me understands the different reasons to walk the Camino, I often found myself thinking that I knew of no other sufficient reason to walk the Camino other than Jesus. My heels and the balls of my feet developed large, painful blisters that reappeared day after day. I can think of little else that would motivate me to repeatedly stick a needle into my foot and then to walk seven hours on sore feet. The ache in my feet was manageable when I knew that I was offering it up for something and that this pain was aiding someone else. It would have been entirely different to just endure the pain as part of the adventure.
Why did I walk the Camino? I walked it for Love. I walked it because in prayer Jesus tenderly calls me “My Heart” and I wanted to fall deeper in love with that Sacred and Eucharistic Heart. I walked it for a time of peace and solitude. I walked for Jesus.