The Camino crosses many boundaries and thus interacts with many languages. In its heart and center it is still what it is—a spiritual odyssey. So to get the linguistics correct the terms are used as following—”buen camino” in Spain, or “bon chemin” in France, or “bom caminho” in Portugal. I am in Portugal so hence my shift.
What makes a Bom Caminho? Waking up every morning. Reaching your destination each day, Meeting interesting people along the way. Seeing the history and culture of the place. Finding a bed every night, These are all worthy contenders. My number one is finding time to pray as I walk.
My rhythm is to wake at 5:00 with an alarm. Leave home by 5:30 if the day is going to be hot. Walk with phone torch light, facing forward and map of the way on the screen. By 6:30 you can see your way without light. By 7:30-8:00 stop to have breakfast. By 10:30 a short break. Reach where you are staying by 12:30-1:00.
Upon arriving find a bed. This is not always as easy as it sounds. Then begin the second set of rituals. Bathe, wash clothes, you only have three sets, remember everything is on your back. Get place to dry clothes to ensure they are ready for tomorrow. Then eat lunch, take a sleep usually 30-45 minutes, Mass my 5:30, write the daily blog. If there are people have a conversation and it is time to go to sleep. The rhythm just happens each day. This rhythm creates a Bom Caminho.
While walking there is a different rhythm. Rosary followed by Office of Readings, then morning prayer. Then allow the mind and God to go as they please.
The first days are all the things that are left over from responsibilities that have not been done. Then all the regrets and the negative things unresolved. Then comes the desert where you are lead by the spirit to be tempted. After the desert and being hacked by temptations of all forms comes a very different stage. Deep desires connected to vocation and how God is calling you. If all these are recognized and lifted up to God then what comes next is beyond description—utter stillness.
The mind becomes at home in the stillness and in God. There is no more anxiety or need to flutter this way or that. There is a growing calm and focus as your whole being rests in God. I have walked for nine days. Two of them have been peaceful. This is a Bom Caminho!
Have you ever realized how much chatter goes on inside your head? How much noise there is? Coming to a place where the noise stops and stillness becomes the default position for the whole being is the point of walking as a meditation.
It takes both work and grace to come to stillness. It is so easy to get caught in any of these phases and get stuck. Remember thinking in what mind is like a virus or addiction. The mind feeds on it. How much of y9our thinking is compulsive? Over and over again and it does not give you anything, it consumes energy and it depletes you. Yet we continue feeding it with fodder expecting peace to emerge.
Meditation also brings me to this place. But not as long lasting except on retreat. Pushing the body to its limits of endurance, opens a space where time and eternity meet. Here it is possible to come to utter stillness inside and remain there for a while.
This is my last day of walking for this year. Next year, God willing I will walk from San Joao Da Madeira To Santiago. What will be 274 Km. This year In the eight days walking, I walked 190 Km.
Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. Remember the keep the inner pilgrim happy.
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