Sunday, October 9, 2011

Back on the Camino!

It is October 9th and today I leave with my group of baby pilgrims for Spain and the Camino. I am thrilled with their level of excitement over their upcoming pilgrimage.

Only one of these baby pilgrims has done a walking trip with me so everything is new to them. But they know that this is not just a Southern Treks walking tour but a pilgrimage and they will be blessed by it just as I was last year. They have all read To the Field of Stars and are all emotional about what they are doing.

We have been training for this since February. Through that cold and then the short spring with the tornado that closed our walking trails out at Berry and finally though the never ending heat of the summer. It was very hard to do mile after mile when the temperature was over 95 for 3 full months but we did. And as we strengthened our legs and hardened our feet against blisters we deepened and renewed friendships.

I truly feel that they are ready to put their feet on this trail which has been walked for over 1250 years. There have been many miracles reported along this path and I can attest to that from my own experience here last year.

We are going with the blessings of so many people judging by the good wishes from our friends on Facebook who have followed our training. Tomorrow night we will get our official blessing when we go to the Pilgrims' Mass in Leon.

Until later,
Buen Camino

Monday, May 30, 2011

Wanting to get back on the Camino again!

Hello friends,

I noticed that it has been nearly 6 months since I posted on this blog and some things have changed and some have not. I looked at my last blog and it stated that I never had a day go by that I did not think of my Camino and that is still true. And then I read that I had the Camino Addiction and that is still true but I also said that I would never go back and do the whole thing again and that is not true! In addition to taking a small group to do the last 100 miles in October I am now planning on doing the whole thing again beginning the middle of September 2012. I would love to do it in the spring but my only daughter, Paige, will be graduated from nursing school in May and I do not want to take a chance on missing that. Plus, it should be cooler when I start the middle of September as it will be 3 weeks later and hopefully some of the extreme heat will be gone.

I have put together a wonderful Power Point program ( I think it is wonderful) with music and I have been showing it to several different churches including Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal and have been invited to present it to our local Jewish synagoge! Now, that is the power of the Camino. The only problems I have is that almost as soon as the music comes on I begin to cry. Have done it every single time but I am getting better! But I still cannot share a wonderful experience I had on the trail as I think it is a miracle and do not want anyone to laugh at it or put it down. So, I seldom share it, even with friends. It is too precious but to those of you who faithfully followed me last year I will be glad to tell you if you give me a call!

I am working very hard at training my group of 8 Camino 2011 pilgrims so that they will be physically, mentally and spiritually ready for this. I was not ready the first time I did the last 100 mines in 2008. I had not problem with the walking but I kind of looked on it as one of my Southern Treks trips so I missed a lot BUT I was so intrigued that I decided to go back and do the whole thing alone. And I did and boys, was I ready for that! And I will do that again although I have had 3 very dear people ask to go with me but that is out of the question. This is MY Camino, my spiritual pilgrimage and I need to do it alone. I will be going on 68 years old when I do it and am counting on my back and right knee being good! About a month after I returned in Octboer, 2010, I ruptured another disc in my back but am having no pain now. I got to physical therapy several times a week and the walking actually helps. My PT says that my back is a mess! I addition to that herniated disc I have 3 bulging discs and have already had 2 back surgeries but am good!!

I live in north Georiga and it is very hot here already. Today was 95 and tomorrow will be 97. That is not only hot but it is dangerous so I will monitor this group very carefully. I got in trouble myself one day along the Meseta when it was over 100 and I gave out of water. But we will not give out of water. Just will go slow during our 12 miles and if necessary we will cut it short. We have once chance for that at about 6 miles but that means we have to go down the dreaded "Power Line" a utiltiy swarth which goes up a mountain nearly 1,000 feet. Going up is hard but going down is torture!

I will not wait so long to post this next part. Oh, I forgot to say that I wll go with Steve's blessings again. He is amazing!

Buen Camino,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Camino Addiction

It has been two and one half months since I walked into Santiago and I have to admit that seldom does an hour go by that I do not think of my experiences. Because of modern technology I am hearing from other pilgrims either by e-mail or on Facebook and together we share memories. Every single one of them wants to go back and do it again! What is strange to me is that while on the walk I heard several people say that they planned to come back and walk it again and I would always think and sometimes ask "why ?". Why would you put yourself through that extreme heat, fatigue, blisters, and everything else connected with it and NOW, I understand WHY they would. I would too, in a heartbeat except that I would never leave Steve for six weeks again. Not fair to him although he would never say that. I do remember telling Steve almost daily, that although it was hard and I was dead tired that I was happy! But I will have a part in it again because I am taking a small group of 12 to do the last 100 miles of it October 9-21, 2011. It will all be in Galacia except for the first two days we will be in Leon. Galacia is the Irish Spain, the Green Spain and is considered by most to be the most beautiful part. We will be staying in restored 16th century manor homes, no scrounging around for a place to stay and we will have wonderful meals and that includes restaurants, dinners in our hotels as well as gourmet picnic lunches each day. No more eating stale bread and old cheese out of my backpack! Bet I don't lose 15 pounds either but I would not anyway just walking 100 miles! But what I will do is disolve in tears upon reaching the Cathedral in Santiago because that is what we pilgrims do upon completion of the Camino de Santiago, be it 500 miles or 100 miles.
All the same.

There is a real Camino addiction because I have it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

One week post Camino!

It has been one week today since I walked into the city of Santiago, tears flowing freely but was not embarrssed by it as so many pilgrims were doing the same thing. The emotion one feels at the completion of this journey is amazing and I heard people, who were not doing this as a pilgrimage, say that something about this path got to them. I know it did to me.

I have not published this blog as a travel guide to the Camino as there are lots of those, but rather as a guide to the feelings and emotions I had as I walked it. I did this pilgrimage as a way to reappraise life's purpose for me and I think it did that. I felt from the start at Saint Jean Pier de Port, in France, that what I was doing was going to be life changing for me and it was. That first day of nearly 20 miles was the hardest thing I have ever done. I could hardly unlace my boots when I got to my hotel 12 hours later and was so tired that night that I could not sleep. But not one time did I think if quitting but along the way, on some of the long, long days with the temperatures close to 100 and no shade a all, I did think that I might just die on the Way. Truly. But along the Way I saw sights which amazed me: a cow had just given birth to a calf and while she was cleaning it up a horse came over and helped her lick the baby clean and get it on its feet! I have 3 pictures to prove it. That to me was a miracle and it said that this path of 1250 years was special. I saw strangers stop and try to help fellow pilgrims who were struggling with blisters or the heat or just exhaustion. They did not even speak the same language but givng aid knows no language. I made a list of the different countries the pilgrims I met came from and it totaled 23 countries as well as the 7 Americans I met. Four of the seven were monks from New Mexico who did the entire walk in the long black robes with US Army issued backpacks! And they were FAST! No one could keep up with them!

This journey went from the high mountains of the Pyranees in France to the valleys into Spain which were rich with vineyards and olive groves, through the Death Valley dry soil of miles and miles of cut grain fields to the old Roman roads to the untouched villages of a thousand years ago to the lush green of the Irish Spain as you walked your way into Santiago. Five hundred miles of 1,610,000 footsteps of the millions of pilgrims of the past and present who, for whatever their reason, left their own footprints in the dusty soil for others to follow.

I know I shall not pass this way again but the memories I made will stay with me the rest of my life. As Fr. Codd said in his book, "To the Field of Stars", I must remember that this time of the Camino is not my whole life but just a short period of it but my experiences will last forever and the love I felt for my fellow pilgrims will always be there.

May God bless each of you with your own personal Camino, wherever and whatever it is.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day one after the finish!

Today is the first day since August 28th that I have not had to put on my boots, or Keens, as it were and it seemed so strange. So, what did I do but put the boots on anyway and walk the 10 minutes to the Cathedral to watch the new pilgrims come in. Already I am a ¨has been¨ but that is how it should be.

I feel sorry for the pilgrims coming in today as it has been pouring rain since yesterday. Coming in the last 13+ miles was unbelievable. Spirits were so high that you could feel it. The ¨newer¨pilgrims, those who did the last 62 miles instead of the last 500 were suffering too as their blisters were new but their spirits were high. And lest I be prideful I have to keep remembering that it is THEIR Camino too, just as mine is my Camino. Ëveryone´s pace is a good pace and everyone´s Camino is a good Camino. I will have to get out of the habit of greeting everyone who passes me on the trails with a ¨Buen Camino!¨

One of the special things I have learned through this nearly 6 weeks is that 95% of the people, when we exchanged names of our home country, would say with admiration Ämerica. ¨ Several told me how lucky I was to live there and that was so good to hear because if you watch the news you think that American is hated worldwide but none from these pilgrims, just good wishes. When I am home and have time to sort
this out I will make a list of the pilgrims from the various countries I met.

I went to the wonderful Prilgrims Mass today and was moved beyone words. I could only recognize a few words said but I could feel the love for God and for this Camino without knowing the language. After standing in line 2 hours yesterday to get my Compostela, my certificate of doing this pilgrimage, and then coming out and seeing almost a block of pilgrims still waiting to get in, I fully appreciated all of the footsteps we all put in to do this.

My friend from Germany, Monica, and I can in together yesterday but our Canadian friend Ann got in today. She had an extra rest day so that put her a day behind us. Thanks to my cell phone I was able to keep up with her and meet her today. She left at 6:00am this morning, got lost 3 times in the dark but made it, soaked through.

I will say this one more time before I sign off for a week or so: This Camino has been life changing for me -body, mind and soul. I have never been a missionary or preacher but I was presented with so many opportunties to share my faith. I am amazed that people would want details about why, being a non-Catholic, I would do this as a spiritual pilgrimage. I was also surprised as how many, many people told me that that had given up on religion. I am not smart enough to help them but all I could do was to share what I felt.

For those who have been interested in this blog, and in my journey, I thank you with all I have in me. I felt surrounded by love and devotion of family and friends, as well as the One in whose name I did this and for this I am the richest person on earth.

I will leave Santiago for the airport at 4:30 in the morning and will fly out of Madrid at 11:00 and home by 3:30. The word ¨Home¨never sounded so good.

Goodby Spain, Hello United States and Rome, Georgia.

This HAS been a Buen Camino!

Love, Marie

Friday, October 1, 2010

Almost There!

I had a very wonderful post done but lost it somehow on this computer! Just to say that I am about 12 miles from Santiago and will finish tomorrow around 2:00. No use hurrying as the Pilgrims Mass is at noon and I will not go to it until Sunday.

I am still so overwhelmed over this Camino which I have dreamed about and planned for since Oct 2008. It was so, so much more than I ever imagined. Today, as the people on bikes passed us, shouting ¨Santiago¨as they would arrive today and the cars honked their hornes in celebration for us and as I sat have orange juice at a Bar, pilgrims hiked by and when they saw me called out my name, I am in a state of thankfulness for having the chance to do this. I am walking so carefully as I want to finish this standing up! So many people have had to go home because of injuries but I have been so blessed to hqave everything go perfectly!

I will write more when I get home and can process all that has happened to me.I am so overwhelmed by all I have seen, done and been a part of that I cannot even look through my pictures. I cannot believe that it is I, Marie Edwards, who has had this experience. I could not have without my main cheerleader, Steve, who would read ahead in Fr. Codd´s book and say things like ¨tomorrow will be a hard day but you can do it.¨ I am so thankful for him and cannot wait for Monday to come ánd to see that Delta plane which stands for home for me!!

Tomorrow, when I walk down those stairs in Santiago and look to the left to the church I will be in tears, I know that because I am already have started crying, but they will be tears of joy and of thankfulness for my opportunity for this, for the prayers of my friends, my family and for our God who allowed so many people from so many coutries to come together on this 500 miles path across Spain. I will probably never see any of them again but they are in my heart for all of my life. As you all are.

God Bless and Buen Camino.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Six more days to go!

I CANNOT believe that in 6 days I will finish this amazing pilgrimage. It has been the most awesome thing I have ever done and am in sensory overload when I think back to the past 30 days. I cannot believe that I have done the extreme milage in such heat but thankfully it is cool now.

I have not been able to do this blog for several days and wiil have to be quick as this computer is eating up the euros so fast! But I have gone from the ¨rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains¨NOT- to this most beautiful part of Spain, Galacia, the very green part which I entered yesterday. I did this same part 2 years ago so it is wonderful seeing it again.

When I get back I will take a vacation from FB and my blog for a week or so just to gather my thoughts and to pay attention to my Steve. There are a million experiences I want to share with you all but will have to wait until I get back to do it. I will finish this pilgrimage, all 500 miles and 1,466,000 feet, on October 2nd. My life will never be the same again. I wish for all of you the same experience I have had to enrich your lives. It is amazing. I never knew that having this much time to myself, to reflect and pray and give thanks, would be so powerful. I love meeting all of the people on the walk, but I also love my time alone. In fact, I crave it each day. I have made it a policy to enjoy everyone, especially at the end of the day, but to have my day to myself. The Camino is so well marked that you would have a hard time getting lost. I can start out in the dark and find my way. As someone who can hardly get around Rome by herself, this is a real miracle to have gone from France all the way across Spain and not get lost.

I am so very careful of what I do these last days because to qualify for my Compostela, at the end of the walk, I have to walk the last 100 kilometers, no matter that I walked the first 440 miles already. It is the last 100 which counts. I am so careful where I put my feet as one misstep would ruin it for me.

I want to thank each of you for your thoughts of me and your prayers. I know that is why I have done so well. I will try to post another blog before I get to Santiago on Saturday, around 2:00 pm Spain time. I only have 13 miles to walk that morning. I know also that I will probably start crying on Thursday!

Buen Camino,