And the Camino begins where it ends…

I have just returned from a trip to Spain where I walked the Camino de Santiago with a group of friends. I went hoping to find clarity about some things in my life, but what I found was so much more.

It was a life changing experience that is difficult to summarize in a short note, but I want to share a few highlights with you as they are universal ah-ha’s that everyone can find meaning in.

There were nine people in our group. I had only travelled with one of them before, so this was all new to me. There was not one problem between any of us during the whole trip. I think the reason for that was because we all came on this sacred pilgrimage together with a common goal, but what we didn’t expect was how much we would need each other to accomplish it.

This was a mentally and physically challenging trip. The first day, for example, we walked twenty-one miles and most of it was up hill. There wasn’t any time to think about anything else besides putting your next foot forward and if there was going to be another hill – and there always was. It gave me a clear understanding of what it means to be completely focused in the present moment and doing only what is right in front of you. Near the end, we were all just exhausted, just spent. I was so done with all the hills and I said, “no, I am not doing this hill, NO!” The girl in front of me said, “Betsy, put your head down and get up the hill now!” I reluctantly said, “Fine.” Now there was no other option, you had to keep going. But I needed those people that could say, “You got this, let’s go. I am here for you, let’s do this.”

The deep bond we all formed was profound. The camaraderie, the genuine care and power of the group to lift each other up and support each other is something I will never forget. I never once felt unsafe or alone. You see the same people each day walking towards a common goal and would feel welcome to go and walk beside them. In A Course in Miracles, it says, “If you knew who walked beside you on this path, fear would be impossible.” That was the feeling I had walking the Camino.

It’s timely because June is the month in ancient Chinese philosophy that we enter the seasonal element of Fire. Fire is all about the heart. It’s the warmth we feel from our relationships that helps us to feel inspired, passionate and enthusiastic about life, each other and our pursuits.

The simplicity of the people in Spain and the other pilgrims was inspirational to me. They didn’t have a lot of options to choose from in their day. You are pretty much going to do and eat the same things, and yet they were happy and content with what they had.  I found it very purifying and intend to simplify my life now that I am back.

There was a time though that I found myself getting emotional and worried because I thought, I am missing this…I am missing the opportunity to have the spiritual moments and insights I hoped for because I am so focused on the trek. But, on the last day as we arrived in Santiago de Compostela, we read the final passage from The Way of St. James, which we read from each day, said, “And the Camino begins where it ends” – and I got it. I hadn’t missed it at all. Doing the Camino was one thing, but the effect of doing it is where the gift lies.

So as we begin this month, consider taking some time to reflect on your own journey and the relationships that are important to you. Do they help you feel inspired, passionate and enthusiastic about your life and pursuits? Are there places where you could step up and be more generous, loving and compassionate with yourself and others?

Let’s be committed to bringing the best we have to our relationships and raise the bar on our individual and collective wellbeing.

Have a great month.