My husband walked the Camino in 2005, with a friend of his. They started out in Burgos and walked 500 kilometers to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago. At the time, I did not know him. When we started dating, he told me he had walked The Way, but never went into the details. I saw the pictures – yellow plains, ancient churches, and smiling people – but that was all. As important and life-changing as he told me the walk was, I always got the feeling it was a very personal experience; a treasure which words failed to communicate. But he told me more than once that he wanted us to go together; he wanted me to do it – to walk the way – and he wanted to walk it again.
I always said, “sure”. But the fact is, I am not really athletic…or a nature lover…or even remotely an adventure seeker. I hate camping, I don’t like flying, I suffer from fears of height – which might seem unrelated – but I guess it tells you what kind of woman I turned out to be.
Then last year in July of 2015, we celebrated the anniversary of five years of marriage. It had also been ten years since the pilgrimage that my husband walked to Santiago with his friend. Many things were happening and decisions needed to be made about our future, so he proposed walking to Saint James’ together. But first, he said he wanted to say “thank you”, because ten years before, he never could have imagined the great things that would happen in his life. And also wanted to pray for specific intentions: he especially wanted to pray for his mom, who suffered from cancer.
I did not have any valid reason to say, No, that I wouldn’t go. And I trust my husband. So we booked the flight, borrowed an enormous backpack, which we filled with a few necessary things – too many anyway to carry on my shoulders – and left.
We had just few days, so we decided to walk the last 100 kilometers, which is the least amount of kilometers the Church asks pilgrims to walk. My husband had a friend in Lugo who had offered to host us, so we decided we would start our pilgrimage there; walking a few kilometers on the Camino Primitivo before joining the Camino Francés to get to Santiago.
Our friend welcomed us into his home; the table set with food and drinks. Before going to bed we told him we wanted to go to Mass early the next day before we started walking. He smiled. “It’s Spain”, he said; “The first Mass is at 8:30”, which was too late for us. But then he continued, “I’ll celebrate Mass for you at 7:00” (I forgot to mention our friend is a priest).
And so he did: he celebrated Mass for us – just the two of us – and after the Mass, he gave us a special blessing for the pilgrims setting out on the journey.
I felt like God Himself had arranged all the details so that we could start our pilgrimage this way; I felt He had taken care of all things for us to set out in joy and peace.
And so we took the first step.