Preparing for El Camino

My mind and my heart have been filled with the idea of walking el Camino de Santiago (the Way of Saint James) for a couple of years.  I decided to do it out of love, in celebration and gratefulness during this sixtieth year of my life, 2008.

Preparing means to ready yourself.  The last eight months have been of intense preparation for a physical and emotional challenge at a time in my life when it would be delightful and infinitely easier to stay home enjoying my family, visiting with friends and reading good books.  But, do I do the easy thing?  Of course not!  I love pushing beyond the comfort zone.  It’s the only way that I have found to grow.

Readying myself meant reading all I could find about the pilgrimage; learning about blister prevention and hiking  socks and boots; deciding on technical clothing that wicks away sweat from the body and dries off quickly; trying on multiple backpacks, day-packs, and lumbar packs; getting familiar with trekking poles and wind-resistant jackets; trying on dozens of hiking sandals; struggling to understand a digital compass/altimeter/barometer/dual-zone alarm watch; and, most amazing for a non-athlete like me, getting up at 5:30 most mornings to hit the gym, the treadmill, the Pilates reformer or the Yoga mat before starting my day at the office.  I have been invigorated by the effort.  My body is stronger that it has been in years, my gear is ready, and I feel excited and fearful as the trip gets nearer.

I am ready physically, but, am I ready emotionally?  I forgot to prepare for this.  I don’t know how.  I am coming, because the Camino calls.  Is that enough?  I go in search of a me that got herself lost amid being too busy and accepting too many obligations.  Will I find a different me along the way?

I  have done a lot in the years I’ve been given.   And I have never regretted the things  I did; only what I was too afraid to do.   I am scared about the journey ahead.  But I’ll be darned if I turn my back on an opportunity as juicy as this one.  No, I will not decline life’s invitation to participate in a thousand-year-old ritual of pilgrims seeking something larger than themselves.  For me, the journey is about love and gratefulness: love for the Energy that gives me life; love for the Maggie that works too hard; love for the people whose pain and joy intersect with mine every day.  And gratefulness for the God that lives in me, and for all the goodness and hurt I have experienced.  And most of all, this pilgrimage is a celebration of my being alive.  It isn’t every day that a 60 year old grandmother gets the chance to go meet herself.

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