Unanswerable questions about the Camino
The counter on my blog is about to tick over to 20,000 hits, so here is a reflection I prepared for our Toronto Camino Meeting March 19, 2016.
I have been asked many questions about the Camino, and some of them are difficult to answer.
Is it difficult?
Well, what is difficult about it?
The physical exertion?
Train with your equipment by yourself and with others, and ask yourself - Is it difficult?
Ask other pilgrims what physical problems they had.
Sleeping with snorers?
Earplugs and the day's exertion may solve that one, or perhaps you will learn that you need a private room.
Carrying it all on your back?
Prepare your list, pack it and carry it on walks in increments, and ask other pilgrims about their experience. You may need to ship your bag on occasion.
Is it religious?
Are you religious? If you are, then God will be present with you every day, in the people you meet, the churches you enter and the services you attend. You can be God's hands and feet on the Camino, as you walk in community with other pilgrims.
Is it spiritual?
What do you mean by spiritual? Dawn's early light? Helping one another? A kind word or gesture when you are exhausted? A cuckoo greeting you each morning? Lifting your eyes to the mountains? All of these you will experience, but it is your idea of "spiritual" that matters.
Why do you keep going back?
The answer is different for everyone. I have a long list of answers to that, but the short answer is "Because I can", and Magdalena's answer is "Why not?" It's personal. As my walking partner in 2014 said "Now I know why no one can answer this question. You have to experience it to understand it." The journey makes you a pilgrim.
Let me quote Leonard Cohen's CD Songs for the Road.
The road is not a line between places. It is a place between places. A place of it's own.
If departure is the past and arrival is the future, then the road is the present and there is nothing more spiritually difficult or spiritually rewarding than learning to live significantly in the present.
Let me ask you one last question from Mary Oliver.
Tell me... what are you doing with your one wild and precious life?