Those of us who went on the Camino Pilgrimage organised through Fr. Peter McAnenly and Marian Pilgrimages travelled many kilometres on foot between St. Jean Pied de Port and Santiago de Compostela. Following the paths of other pilgrims over centuries, each of us walked, at their own pace, along sandy, rocky, hilly, level paths and paved roads and in so doing became more aware of just how much we can take for granted.
The simple greeting of Buen Camino (good walk) that pilgrims exchanged with each other was full of a range of good wishes. The expression is loaded with significance, conveying energy, strength, grace, good will, openness and inner peace. All of which contributes to the freedom to be oneself. Walking the camino is a journey like no other and the preparation one does at home by way of extensive walking is valuable. But when the sole purpose of the day is to walk the path that others have trod and to live and search according to what one learns, the presence of others is important. In doing so, one carries not just the back pack with water and coins but the cares and concerns of loved ones. While crossing mountains and valleys one is conscious of the free beauty of creation and the blessings of God in being able to walk, to see, to hear, to smell, to talk. During our days on the camino we were surrounded by sunshine, both outer and inner sunshine through the caring courtesy and graciousness of each other. The vast fields of corn and sunflowers reminded us of our reliance on the farmers of the world for food. Many wind turbines seen in the near and far distance told us of the ways in which nature can be harvested to provide us with electricity. When close to the sound of moving vehicles we marvelled at the engineering feats that constructed the motorways crossing Spain from East to West and North to South. Having seen monuments and contemplated clouds and the colours of each day the moments when we shared Eucharist and meals together brought home to us that God, the author of all life awaits us at every bend in the road. At such times the invitation to stop, to be still, to value silence, gather one’s thoughts and express joyful gratitude for that all has been and will be, was important.
Almighty God, you always show mercy toward those who love you and you are never far from those who seek you. Remain with your servants on this holy pilgrimage to Compsotela and guide their way in accord with your will. Shelter them with your protection by day, give them the light of your grace by night, and, as their companion on the journey, bring them before the tomb of the apostle James in safety so they can experience your peace and hope. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
- Sr. Carmel Flynn.