I recently made a ten day spiritual walking pilgrimage to Galicia, Spain and the Camino, the way of St. James. This ancient pilgrimage is 850 km long through Spain, over a thousand years old, and has had a huge resurgence in the last fifteen years. There are many trails, and I only did a small part of it. It goes lots of places, from France, Portugal, Europe, as far away as Hungary. The French pilgrimage takes at least two months to walk. I’m glad to have walked some of it.
I trained by walking ten miles a day for months before I flew to Madrid and to A Coruna, northwestern Spain, about a hundred miles away from where I began walking . Many people like me are interested in simplifying their lives, and walking prayer can be one way.
This blog is about how I changed. My intention to walk was because I wanted to gain more ‘mercy’ in my approach to life. I prayed for you, for me, for everyone everywhere, before and after this life.
Like the poet Lew Welch said,
I saw myself a ring of bone
in the clear stream of all of it
and vowed always to be open to it
that all of it might flow through
and then heard
“ring of bone” where
ring is what a
A couple of days before I left, my youngest son and I had a profound interchange of emotions. I learned that he was traveling to say goodbye to his friend, who was dying, in the last few days of his 23 year life. I felt a new understanding, the deep mercy I was looking for. I saw it in my son’s face, and in his courage to love his friend, even through the sorrow. Of course I felt mercy for his friend, and for the loss of a wonderful young person from this planet. I felt like the table had been swept clean of shallow things, and I saw what truth really matters.
I prayed while I walked. I prayed. My son texted me on my last walking day that his friend had died. I continued to pray for his friend’s soul for two solid days. Upon my return, my son and I went to his friend’s ‘viewing’ reception at a local mortuary. We spoke to his parents. I told them of my strong prayer energy toward his son both before and after his passing. They are faithful people, and they understood what I was talking about, regarding faith. In the last couple of years, their son had grown very spiritual and prayed deeply up until the end.
My pilgrimage was tied up with life and death, which is all each of us gets. It is ‘the clear stream of all of it’ and does flow, regardless of what we understand.
My poem speaks what I’m trying to say:
Everything about this is soul
What is a soul? Joey asks me one Saturday evening
I reach for a candle and place it in his hands
I light its potential
I think I understand he says to memory
and I believe him