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What Adventure Offers...

Greetings, Luminous One!

As if on cue for our month focused on Adventure, this week my husband, Jim, received an incredible story from his friend, Patrick, the happy Aussie you see above. The moment of his text was the day before completing his Pilgrimage de Compostela, aka walking the Camino de Santiago in western Spain.

For those of you who don't know about this millennia-old tradition, it's a 500-mile, approximately 35-day trek in hilly terrain that emerged in the 900's AD as a path towards absolving one's sins and demonstrating devotion to Christianity.

Quoting here from Wikipedia:

"Created and established after the discovery of the relics of Saint James the Great at the beginning of the 9th century, the Way of St James became a major pilgrimage route of medieval Christianity from the 10th century onwards.... It is a network of pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. As Pope Benedict XVI said, "It is a way sown with so many demonstrations of fervor, repentance, hospitality, art and culture which speak to us eloquently of the spiritual roots of the Old Continent.""

Martin Sheen even did a film about his experience hiking it.

What is a pilgrimage?

Quoting Wiki again, it is:

"...a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, after which the pilgrim returns to their daily life."

Pilgrimages used to be more common partially because they were expected by the Church. If a person was able-bodied enough to walk but wasn't Crusade material, they would be urged to do one every few years, and if they weren't physically up to it, they would need to pace a lot of labyrinths instead.

But even with the Church mandates, people from all ranks willingly chose the pilgrimage because of how it changed them. This brings me to Patrick's text:

"Day 30. Das Ocas to Vilamaior, 25km I could not say that this, the penultimate day of the Camino, is an anticlimax, but something inside me says that I do not want it to end. I am reminded of Bernard Moitessier, the French sailor, who was a contestant in the first around-the-world yacht race in 1968. He was actually leading the field when he decided that he was so happy in his element that just before the point when he needed to turn around to begin the homeward leg, he decided to simply go around again and forgo the fame and fortune that awaited him. There is no fame or fortune awaiting me, except perhaps some familiar souls from the journey who will be in the cathedral square tomorrow, and it will be lovely to see them. But, yes, if there were a bus or a train that could take me back to the start, I think, with my family’s permission, I would do it over again. It is not simply that I have never been fitter in my life, but more that I have never learnt so much about just trusting the environment in my life. They say on the walk that the "Camino will provide" and that has been true - we have met wonderfully supportive people and tried in turn to offer our support. But I am reminded also of the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy when Douglas Adams says, “The knack to learning how to fly is to throw yourself at the ground... and miss.” Beginning a journey like this requires so much preparation and so much training. My family stand testament to how many times I packed, repacked, weighed and reweighed my pack. I covered every base, every "what if?" cold, hot, hunger, illness, Wi-Fi, no Wi-Fi. But in the end none of that mattered. I could have set off in what I was wearing on any particular day and made it work. Our first night we stayed in a hostel with people who slept in their walking clothes and pulled their ponchos up over themselves and fell asleep. How happy and snug, nay smug, I felt in the warmth of my 2 bag liners and soft cotton tee shirt. And what a weight those same liners and tee shirts became as the track progressed and the nights got warmer, that first night being the only seriously cold night of the whole adventure. So if I could start again I would carry so much less, worry so much less about where I was going to sleep, just accept the coffee I was given and believe that tomorrow or the day after there would be Wi-Fi. I am sitting here within 8km of Santiago. We decided that we would like to enter quietly at sunrise tomorrow morning, so we stopped in a hostel on the city limits. I feel fulfilled, a sense of accomplishment, so fit and healthy, still a little smelly, but so wanting to be back with my family and share experiences and dream that one day we can do this together, in whole or in part . And I, the experienced pilgrim, can show them that you don’t have to worry - the Camino will provide in more ways than you can imagine. And what matters is not what we have or wish to have, but there is a happiness that comes from the absence of desire. It is not just that the Camino will provide, the world provides, it is there all around us. Let’s "start where we are, use what we have got and do what we can" ( a nod to you, Jim)."

As Patrick so beautifully communicates, one thing that makes a pilgrimage meaningful and even delightful is the requirement to drop control, or said another way, to enter into what I call "don't know mind." It's the way we learn to fly by trusting we won't hit the ground.

So, go out and have a wander one of these days - take a road you've never taken and see where you end up, and note who you meet along the way. Even little jaunts can provide big expansions.

Happy trails, my friend!

Much love and Infinite blessings,


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