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.