Busted Halo
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Rebecca Gallo :
54 article(s)

In the spring of 2012, Rebecca Gallo spent six weeks walking the Camino to Santiago. Rebecca writes about putting into practice the lessons she learned on that journey. She's continuing her spiritual journey -- looking for deeper meaning, asking questions of all she's believed before, and finding answers in the people she meets and the experiences she has along the way.
December 19th, 2012

“What’s this?” I said, picking a book up from my friend Tara’s dresser.
“Oh — my friend gave it to me and Russ for our engagement. I haven’t read it yet though. It’s about a woman whose mother puts her prayers in a box, and the daughter tells about finding the boxes after she dies.”
I turned the book over and read the back cover. Then, I opened it up to read the synopsis on the inside cover. I put the book back on Tara’s dresser and filed away the thought that perhaps I could find time to read it in the next couple days — in between my duties as one of Tara’s bridesmaids.
The next day, with time on my hands before the photographer arrived, I headed…

December 12th, 2012

The Belief-o-matic. It sounded like a new-fangled kitchen appliance I would have seen advertised on late night TV — back in 1985. I could see the greasy haired salesman on my screen telling me how simple it was to use: “Insert beliefs and in no time at all, you’ll have the perfect religion!”
But this wasn’t a Home Shopping Network sales pitch — it was a website. As a woman who has struggled with her Catholic faith for a while — so much so that she took off on a 480 mile pilgrimage walk to see what she could discover — the whole process intrigued me. Answer 20 questions and be presented with your perfect religion. No need to call the 800 number on my screen. I could simply insert my…

December 5th, 2012

I punched a zip code into the labyrinth locater. Jackpot! The search returned two labyrinths in Asheville, North Carolina. The first was at a Catholic church, but I wasn’t ready to step foot in one of those at this point in my life. The second was an outdoor labyrinth at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. It was a mere one-and-a-half mile walk from my temporary home. The next morning, I headed out in search of this circle of stones, eager to walk the labyrinth and hear what it had to tell me.

July 3rd, 2012

Early in my Camino, I had a dream I was pregnant. In the dream, I was surprisingly okay with the idea. I say “surprisingly” because for most of my life I have not wanted to have children.
“Maybe it’s a sign of a new self that you’re birthing,” Mona, a fellow pilgrim, told me. “When you dream about birth, or death actually, they say it can be a sign of a big change — part of your old life dying and something new being born.”

Rain that Christens

That new life got its christening two days before I entered Santiago. It had been raining on and off the entire day, but not heavily enough to warrant me pulling out and pulling on my rain pants. Mona, Julie, and I sat in…

June 25th, 2012

After walking 12 miles, Philipp and I were relieved to arrive at the albergue in Tosantos, Spain. We were greeted by Dani, a volunteer serving as the welcoming committee, chef, and housekeeper that week. We left our packs in the hall and followed Dani into the living room.
I saw the now-familiar log book on the coffee table. At each day’s destination, we turn over our Pilgrim Credential, which lists our name, starting point, hometown, and country of origin. All of this information is entered into the book, our Credential is stamped, and we are shown to our bed for the night. But Tosantos was different. Dani didn’t make any moves for the book. Instead he asked us about ourselves, where we were from, and our…

June 20th, 2012

When a friend e-mailed me last September to tell me a movie was coming out about the Camino I was a little alarmed — would the Camino become overrun with Americans? I liked that most of the people I told about the Camino back in the United States had never heard of it. It felt like I’d discovered something. As a former teacher, I enjoyed telling people about the history of the pilgrimage trail and the details of my upcoming trip. I was looking forward to meeting pilgrims from all over the world — not a bunch of Americans who had come on a whim after seeing a movie.
When the movie was released in November, my mother and I went to see it. “Was there anything that surprised you?” she asked as we walked…

June 15th, 2012

I am due to arrive in Santiago on Saturday — a full three days ahead of schedule. I’m eager to get to my destination, but more excited about my early arrival because it means I can spend two nights at Casa do Raposito — a place of reflection for pilgrims who have just finished their Camino.
When I started the Camino 35 days ago, I didn’t know such a place even existed. I heard about it only thanks to someone I met on what I thought would be a terrible day.
I had stayed the previous night at a parish hostel in Berciamos. Sixty people sat at a long line of tables to share a community meal. After dinner, pilgrims from each country sang a song from their homeland. This took nearly an hour as we had 14 countries…

June 12th, 2012

“Whenever I have a big decision to make, I go for a walk. Then, I go to sleep. When I wake up, the answer is always there.” Mona, a wise woman from South Africa I’ve been walking with the last few days, told me this today. It reminded me of evenings I’ve called my mother stressed over something. “Go to bed,” she’d tell me. “It will all look better in the morning.” And indeed it does. Perhaps now I’ll go for a walk before crawling into bed.
Many pilgrims are walking the Camino contemplating a major change in their lives or with a question they’d like answered. I’ve met at least half a dozen pilgrims walking the Camino after ending a relationship.…

June 7th, 2012

Walking the Camino, like walking any other path in life, can sometimes have its “down” days. Today was one of those days. I just didn’t feel like walking anymore. I opened my pedometer to see I’d only walked 200 steps since last I checked it. The route was descending steeply and full of rocks. It took not only physical but mental energy as I had to focus on each individual step. I walked with others, but even their company didn’t help — I was just ready to be finished. For the day. Or with the Camino? I wasn’t sure.
I wondered what caused this down mood and why I couldn’t get out of it. Was it because I didn’t go through my morning ritual of stretching and writing,…

May 31st, 2012

At the parish hostel I stayed at in Tosantos (population: 20) we all went up to the third floor chapel after our shared meal. The hospitalerios (a volunteer who runs the hostel) led us in a prayer service that included readings, blessings, songs, and prayer in French, German, English, Spanish, and Italian (representative of the countries from which the nine of us pilgrims had come). He then had a message to share with us: The Camino is not so much about the outward physical journey as the inward journey of our hearts. He encouraged us to take this message with us along The Way. Having just passed the half-way mark on my journey along the Camino, I thought now would be a time to reflect on that inward journey.
As I mentioned…

May 29th, 2012

“Don’t let your fears load your pack,” Rick said to me on our third day on the Camino. He’d read this advice on a Camino Forum, but admitted he didn’t follow it close enough. As we walked along, he decided to heed this advice and let go of his bedbug spray. Years ago the hostels along the Camino had a problem with bedbugs, but I’d read it had since been remedied. I hoped that was true. So did Rick.
It took me six days to get up the courage to leave my fears behind. At my hostel in Estella, I left a pair of flip flops, a paperback book, and a pair of rain covers for my shoes. Indeed, fear was what had me pack those things to begin with. The flip flops were packed after my sister’s warning about contracting…

May 22nd, 2012

The trail marker was ambiguous. I thought it pointed to the mowed path off to our right. My new friend Michel thought it meant we were to stay on the paved road we were on. I recalled that my map indicated we’d be walking along a road for most of the day, so I listened to Michel, but was nervous we were going the wrong way. Walking through the Pyrenees with 22 pounds on my back, I didn’t want to have to backtrack.
“Is this the right way?” I asked God in my head.
“Just follow Michel. You’ll be fine.” God replied.
“Can’t you just show me another trail marker so I feel better?”
“Follow Michel,” he said. God often has to repeat things for me. I’m not the best at believing him the first time — or the fifth.…

May 17th, 2012

Rémy and I placed our orders for paella at a cafe on the square in Pamplona. It had been a long day walking the Camino and we still had a few more kilometers to go. Our packs sat on the ground next to our table. As we sat sipping our beer, I saw Antoine walking across the square. I had met Antoine a few days earlier — he’s a 27-year-old Frenchman on his second Camino in less than one year. He had his 40-pound pack on his back, walking sticks in one hand, and a guitar case in the other. I called him over to our table.
“You really bought it!” I said.
Rémy couldn’t believe his eyes. “You just bought a guitar?” he asked. Antoine had told me earlier he was going to buy one when he got to Pamplona.…

May 14th, 2012

Rocks are not the first things I’d think to bring on a 480-mile pilgrimage walk across northern Spain. Hiking shoes, dry-wicking shirts, sunscreen: yes. But rocks? Though not shown on any packing list, I would wager that many of my fellow pilgrims along the route to Santiago de Compostela (a journey popularly known as the Camino), are carrying their own rocks.
The rock is meant to symbolize all our fears, burdens, and expectations about our pilgrimage. Some pilgrims carry a rock from home. Others, learning of the tradition only after being on the trail, pick one up as they walk along. We won’t carry them to Santiago though. Along “The Way” there stands an iron cross. When pilgrims arrive at this cross, they…

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