Thursday Tidbits

Posted on May 28, 2020 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet


Me and my great friend, Virginie (France)



“When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high

And don’t be afraid of the dark,

At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky,

And the sweet silver song of a lark.

You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry and the Pacemakers

One year ago, today, I was wrapping up the most incredible experience of my life. I completed the Camino in Spain. With over 1,000,000 steps and 713 kilometers, I walked into the city of Santiago de Compostela with Virginie Gatel, a young French woman who had the dubious honor of spending the last two days of this epic walk with an aging bald man from Canada. As we entered the city triumphantly, with badly blistered feet, we were arm in arm singing “We Are The Champions’. I know it sounds corny, but it was very emotional. We weren’t champions but we sure felt like we were.

Walking the Camino is a test of endurance, but it is so much more than this. The Camino has its roots in an ancient pilgrimage and present-day walkers are referred to as pilgrims or perigrinos. While some people still walk the route from St.Jean Pied de Port France to Santiago de Compostela Spain as a spiritual exercise, a larger percentage are there for other reasons. Many come for adventure while others come carrying a burden or simply to get out of the rat race for a month.

People from all walks of life come from every corner of the planet and leave as changed people.

Is it the tranquility of the Spanish countryside that uplifts people? Do the physical demands increase endorphins? Does the plethora of churches provide spiritual nourishment? Is one inspired by pilgrims who walked these exact paths over 1000 years ago?  Do the fantastic wines of Spain also lift spirits? That’s an easy one! It’s all of these but so much more.

There is something magical about the Camino that’s difficult to describe. You start off as one person and end up as a community of fellow travelers. You walk with them. You share meals with them. You share cramped quarters in one of the many alburgues (hostels). You discuss your innermost feelings with total strangers who feel like your best friend after walking for two hours together, stopping occasionally to bandage each other’s feet.

If you were to poll anyone of the hundreds of thousands of people who have completed this journey, my guess is that most of them would cite camaraderie at the top of their list of what made their journey so memorable. Even when language is a barrier, a smile, a thumbs up, a pat on the back or a hug more than compensate for the inability to understand a foreign language. Friendship doesn’t require a language. Symbols of a shared journey and affection for fellow pilgrims is what defines the Camino.

I know that it’s not helpful to dwell on the past. We all need to keep moving forward. This is especially true these days as we ponder the world we inhabited a scant three months ago- a world that has changed so dramatically. The pandemic has left us with deep scars, blisters of a very different variety. But, like blisters, we will heal, although the recovery time will likely be much longer. We are walking through an incredible storm and we must believe in a golden sky sometime in the future , however long it takes.

As we inch our way forward into an uncertain future, it might be a good time to take a page out of the Camino. While hugs are still verboten, we can still give a thumbs up and a smile to a neighbor or a friend. Like the Camino, we’re all on this path together.

May we hear the sweet silver sound of a lark one of these days.

Have a great weekend.


A toast to the end of the Camino

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