Busted Halo

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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May 29th, 2012

Unloading My Fears, Lightening My Pack


“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 foot fungus in the communal showers. The paperback was to combat potential boredom. The rain shoes were the hardest (and heaviest) to let go, but easier once experienced pilgrims told me all the ways to dry my shoes should they get wet. (Besides the fact that my mother had doused my hiking shoes in waterproofing spray before I left.)

Talking to Rick later that day, he couldn’t even remember what he’d left behind since last we spoke. “Shows you how important that stuff was!” he told me. He was right. I didn’t miss any of it.

“Let go and let God.” It’s a phrase I try to remember and live, and once again it has proved true in my life.

God sent me some rain and proved to me my shoes will stay dry. Boredom only shows up on a rare occasion, but at that time God has a habit of having someone show up along my path. My feet show no signs of disease. And those bedbugs? We’ve yet to see a single one.

Rick and Rebecca on the Camino.

It’s very common for pilgrims along the Camino to leave items from their pack at hostels along the way, deeming them not worth their weight for the rest of the journey. There are boxes for this very purpose at many of the hostels. At first I considered mailing these things home. I soon realized they weren’t even worth the effort, time, or postage.

Letting go of my possessions is not new for me. Before I left for my self-prescribed one-year sabbatical (of which the Camino is part), I let go of a lot of things not worth their weight in my life. Letters from an ex-boyfriend. More candles than I’d ever burn. Fondue pots once well used and loved, no longer part of my entertaining. I had decided to give up my apartment and live without a permanent home during this year. Some items would get stored, but I gave away or sold everything I could possibly bear to part with. Martini glasses, framed prints, and clothes went to a consignment shop so I could make some money to fund my travels. Candles, decorative pieces, art supplies were given away to friends who wanted them. Some items were taken to the Salvation Army donation bins. Some went to be sold at a garage sale my parents held that spring — though many of those items were snatched up by my siblings. “You’re getting rid of this? Can I have it?” I had decided to let those items go, and God had sent my siblings in to ease any fear I felt of “losing” those items to a stranger.

As part of my sabbatical I did a work exchange with a friend. In return for helping her de-clutter her storage room, I was able to live — for the first time in my life — someplace other than the northeast for the winter. It worked out perfectly for both of us. I enjoyed a warmer winter, and she enjoyed having someone to help her tackle a room that had been collecting years of memories. After we finished, she said something that simply delighted me: I feel lighter. We talked about how shedding physical weight often sheds emotional weight. Things she’d kept in fear that “one day” she might need them were now gone. And space was opened not only in her storage room but somewhere inside her — and she could actually feel it.

I ran into Rick again today. We’ve walked for 14 days. He’s let go of something nearly every day. “Wouldn’t it be nice to know what it’s like to walk with a light pack?” he asked. Indeed it would. He’s inspired me to shed more fears today. I’ll let go. And let God take care of the rest.

What fears are weighing down your “pack”?

The Author : Rebecca Gallo
Since 2012, Rebecca Gallo has walked the Camino de Santiago three times -- twice on a strict budget, and a third time traveling a little more luxuriously (private rooms with sheets instead of hostels with a sleeping bag). She enjoyed sharing her first journey and subsequent reflections with Busted Halo readers. Other tales of her adventures can be found at RenaissanceRebecca.com.
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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.
  • Mary Ann

    Re-read your post again this a.m. Rebecca, thinking of the liturgical readings at the time you posted it; Jesus cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit deeming it “not worth its weight”. You are making remarkable progress……keep going…our prayers are with you.

  • Linda Mastro

    My theme for the year – and perhaps the rest of my life – is “Lighten up.” Thanks for another reminder of how to do this and the grace that flows in when I am willing to let go and let God. Blessings to you and all of your fellow pilgrims on The Way. Holding you all in my prayers.

  • Wendy

    Hi Becky…trying to keep up with you!
    Your insight is inspiring. Thank you, Love you!

  • Kelly Hoog

    Rebecca, I love your post. I keep checking in on your journey every now and then. I want to look into the Camino in more detail for myself. LOVE the declutter business idea. It is truly my favorite thing to do although you might not know it with all my junk drawers. :) Guess I’ll work on those tonight.
    My God continue to guide you on your journey.
    God Bless, Kelly

  • Carolyn Martone

    Rick and Rebecca look so happy! These posts have been amazing. You write in a way that makes the reader feel as though he or she is there. I need to get rid of some of my books; thanks for the reminder. :)

  • Barbara

    Hi Rebecca – I am Rick’s wife and so glad to see that he is doing well. Your article was awesome and tell Rick to remember those words of “unloading” when it comes to cleaning out HIS closet!! haha…:) We miss him dearly but are so proud of him. (and all of y

  • Jeanne

    How brave to let go and let God! Wonderful! I am sure this spiritual journey is going to bring you much peace and happiness. I will be following you along the way.
    God’s speed

  • Rebecca Gallo

    Hello all –
    Glad this post touched so many of you. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I truly love reading what you have to say. It surely helps motivate this writer to write more when such thoughtful comments are posted. I wish all of you the best in lightening your load. You can start small – open a drawer and take out one thing you don’t need anymore. Give it away to someone who does:) I love doing this so much that it’s the business I’ll be starting when my sabbatical ends.

    Tara – oh how I love watching you embrace simplicity. Love my visits to your home regardless, but even better when I get to help you declutter.

    Theresa – of course I remember you! Loved your business ideas and hope you are getting to see some of them come to fruition?

    Bob – If I come through NJ, would be happy to help you get started!

    E. Anne – so true. I just need reminding of that on occassion!

    Everyone else – wish I had time to respond directly to all of you. Do know that I read each comment and treasure your words, insights and encouragement.

  • Elizabeth Anne DiPippo

    Wow, the physical weight of the backpack and the emotional weight of fears…quite a parallel. Yes, God will take care of the rest…the remaining physical, emotional, and spiritual needs; the rest the body needs, the rest the psyche needs; the rest the soul needs!

  • Tara C

    So true!! Each time you help me clean stuff out I feel lighter! So much emotional attachment to “things” and you feel a sense of release when you let go and learn to live simpler. You so have the insight and wisdom to help people do that for themselves… you’re an inspiration! :) Continue to pursue that dream you’ve held on to for so long… :)

  • Yvonne

    Bravo Rebeccah! Letting go lightening up moving forward on your trail full of joyful surprises… Everything is perfect in each moment, right?! Peace and blessings to you and Rick ~

  • Patricia

    Rebecca, I look often for your posts, it is very interesting to hear your thoughts as you make this journey. I have a couple of questions: What made you take this sabbatical? Why was the Camino walk at the end? I truly admire your faith and trust in following your heart. I agree with Theresa, today was a “BULLS EYE” for me too! God’s Blessings.

  • Deanne Smith

    We are enjoying keeping up with you. Agree with that ‘light’ feeling when getting rid of things!
    You are in our thoughts
    Deanne and David

  • Deacon Bob

    Karen would love me to act on this post! She’s constantly bugging me to declutter my life – and our home! I guess it’s really time!! Thanks for this post, and the nudge it’s giving me. See you in July!

  • tjmarquez

    Rebecca, Not sure if you remember me. We met at your parents home around Christmas. I have been following your journey via your blog and find something new to meditate on with each post. Today was a BULLS EYE!. It is difficult to look into the mirror…
    With thoughts and prayers, Theresa J. Marquez

  • Mary Ann

    Unloading fears-the perfect purpose to walk the camino, Rebecca! “Be not afraid for I am with you always” said Jesus to His disciples at the Ascension and JPII to his flock always. Love these posts and live in the hope i can follow them with you to Santiago…in thoughts and prayers.

  • Garnette Arledge

    Spiritual treasure! Loved the way you put it!

  • Pat

    awesome Rebecca!…though you are traveling with a backpack and no “address” for the moment and I am reading about it from my packed-to-the-rafters home where I’ve lived for the last 30 years…you’ve inspired me…peace and good…

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