Coming Home


I'm in Kuala Lumpur, waiting for a plane to Auckland. I have texts and emails from the home, and pictures from my children waiting in Whatsapp, but none of the life I will pick up again tomorrow seems, as yet, quite real. I have been astonished at how completely the Camino Santiago de Compostela had taken over my mental processes.

There is another sense that the Camino is a spiritual exercise; that is, for the entire time one is walking the Camino, one lives in the now. Every day a pilgrim lives with a long term overall goal, that of reaching Santiago but until the last couple of hours on the last day that is just some vague future possibility that you hope will one day arrive, like retirement or Christmas. Every day there is a smaller goal: that of reaching the town you have designated as the next night's resting place, but that will inevitably happen, probably around 2 o'clock and can't be hurried, so that is never much in mind either. Instead of the immediate or the long term future, walking the Camino is always about this piece of track, this slight ache in my left thigh, this view, these people walking up behind me, this next footfall, this next mouthful of water. There is a camaraderie that grows amongst the people sharing the experience with you, and tales to be told of the last 2 or 3 or 4 weeks walking, but apart from that, all else fades to some other place, far away and long ago.

The Camino takes on its own rhythm. There is a pattern to each day: rise, pack, walk, eat, drink, find shelter, unpack, wash body and clothes, sleep, rise, pack.... There is also a rhythm to the whole Camino as it in sequence tests body and mind and spirit.

And then it is over. Santiago is reached and the time honoured customs are observed. The last night is spent, not in an albergue  but a hotel. Souvenirs are bought and trains are booked. Then the shell is taken off the pack and an ordinary railway seat is occupied. Then there are planes and airports, those places of transition with no soul of their own as the re-entry to the old life is made.

 The day after tomorrow we pick up the old life again and begin again, transformed. I'm glad of this 30 hours of travelling to make a physical journey of half a world, but an emotional and spiritual one of far longer than that.

Comments

Merv said…
I love how you describe the Camino's rhythm - partly because the 'why' question seems irrelevant.
Katherine said…
Lovely summary.
The meditative and therapeutic benefits of living in the present...
Take your time.

WV is 'brEathe2'
Anonymous said…
Looks like you have a very brave face Clemency.

Glad you are back safe n sound.
Thank you for sharing

Love Rebecca