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Rebecca Gallo is walking the 480-mile pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago despite, or maybe because of, the doubts she has about faith. Journey with her along this ancient path.

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June 12th, 2012

Lessons Learned Along the Camino

 
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Walking in the morning fog.

“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. I’ve met retirees contemplating their new lives. I’ve met young and old alike wondering which direction to take their lives next. If a problem can be solved by taking a walk and then going to sleep, the Camino can solve a lot of problems. I’ve talked to former pilgrims who tell me the most lasting change they’ve noticed in their lives is that when they need a break, or an answer, they take a “mini-Camino.” It can be just a 20-minute walk around the block, but it serves the purpose.

Today I thought about other lessons I’ll take back from the Camino. Here are some I hope will help all of you along your own journeys.

  • Sometimes you’ll wonder what you were thinking when you decided to start on this journey. That’s okay. Just keep going. Answers will come.
  • There will be detours — some planned, some unplanned, some at the suggestion of others, some because your gut just tells you to take a turn.
  • You will get lost. Look for signs to find your way back to the track. Or ask for help. Or look for others who are headed in your direction and follow them.
  • There will be ups and downs and all sorts of terrain. You can keep plugging along. But also listen for when it’s time to take a break.
  • You’ll carry too much. Then learn to let go. And be amazed by how little you really need.
  • You’ll reach out to help others — giving them what they need. In turn, you’ll find that when you need help, you will receive what you need.
  • There will be moments that leave you breathless and moments that will take your breath away.
  • You must take care of your body. Feed it. Give it water. Let it rest. Listen to it when it tells you what it wants.
  • Some days you’ll get sick of the routine and wish for a change. Some days will be so tumultuous you’ll long for a return to the routine.
  • You’ll meet as many people as you care to. All it takes is a simple smile, and they’ll let you know if they’re interested in a further conversation. Some you’ll just greet in passing. Some will walk with you for a short time. Some will walk with you for days, or for the entire journey. Some will be with you one day, gone for weeks, only to reappear later. Some will speak your language. Some you’ll communicate with in other ways. All will leave their mark in some way.

I have experienced every one of these lessons along my Camino. I look forward to learning more.
________________________

Today, I invite you to take a mini-Camino. Go for a walk. No need to get into the right clothes, nor to drive to a park, nor to find someone to go with. Just get yourself out the door. Enjoy.

 
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The Author : Rebecca Gallo
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.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Shakil

    Congratulations Mark..Ur experience on El Camino was one of coagure, resourcefulness and honesty..Personally i dont think u need to walk over 700 miles to find sprirituality..That comes from within and u can experience that anywhere, anytime..Its interesting to note the realities of life u acknowledged but that its important to stop and smell the roses ..Ur beliefs lie in who u are and what u believe to be true in ur heart and guts..Something a lot of people struggle with.El Camino was an experience and a journey..and so spirituality and belief in urself can only be achieved as a coincidence of everydays life journies Well done..Im glad i got to share that extraordinary experience of yours and good luck with u future odysseys in life.

  • MªEufemia Alonso López

    No sé dónde lleva este camino, pero no parece estar mal trazado y si aprendo a vivir con poco, daré más importancia al ser que al tener y esto es buena cosa.

  • Rémy

    “You’ll carry too much. Then learn to let go. And be amazed by how little you really need. »
    I agree with this. To get rid of all the useless things we own (at home and on the back when we hike) gives the same pleasure than the obese people who lose several kilos. Rémy

  • Reeva Miller

    Hi Rebecca, I just read your column and I’m going out right now to take a walk on the Rail Trail near my house.
    Reeva

  • Pat

    what wonderful lessons! Thank you and Buon Camino

  • Kelly Hoog

    Rebecca, I pray today is filled with many graces. I just got back from a Life Teen Youth Ministry Conference and in addition to being filled with Youth Ministers there were about 50 priests. I had an opportunity to interact with many of them. The abuse scandal was/is a tragedy but their are many more men of God who are filled with the Spirit and doing what God called them to do. On my way home from Phoenix to San Antonio I was filled with appreciation for them and I thought of you and your struggle. No matter what you decide I hope you will have an opportunity to interact yourself with men who love and embrace Christ and His Church. No matter what you decide please lift them up in prayer on your journey.
    God Bless, Kelly

  • Joan

    I walked the Camino in May and June 2010 and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. One of my favorite walks back here at home is to go out along the road by the cow pastures and fields. It somehow reminds me of the Camino. I don’t know if it helps me solve problems, but it always makes me feel better.

  • Mary Ann

    It’s pouring here (NJ) today Rebecca so i decided to walk around the house…saw a whole bunch of stuff that i needed to clean….thanks! xo

  • Elizabeth Anne DiPippo

    Another great blog! This seems to connect …recently someone taught me this lesson: often when people are struggling with a grievance, a hurt, a feeling of having been insulted or slighted in some way, people tell them: GET OVER IT! But the fact is they can’t get over it for whatever reasons. In these situations, perhaps it is more helpful instead of saying “get over it”, to say: GO ON! JUST
    GO ON…
    Now having read this blog, maybe I would say: If you can’t get over it, JUST GO ON, Just go on, GO ON A WALK!

  • Rémy

    “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.”
    I agree completely with this and I have already checked that it works. I’ll add that, when you walk in the nature, your brain works better because it is better irrigated. Rémy.
    Is my english correct in the mails I send?

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