Every Monday, I walk 16 km around Toronto with a group of Camino aficionados. They are people who have walked the Camino or are about to: old-timers as well as neophytes. It’s delightful, that there are such beautiful green open spaces in a major metropolis, far from the sounds of any traffic. Inevitably we share stories recounting our exploits on this ancient pilgrimage route and the wisdom we have gained. Walking with this group rekindles an intense longing to pick up backpack and head once more to Santiago de Compostela. The Camino is like a powerful drug that draws me in like a high-grade narcotic. I feel good when walking the Camino because it is often an adventure into the unknown – not just the physical journey but where it takes us emotionally and spiritually. I often feel that I don’t walk the Camino. It is the Camino that walks me. Along the way I meet others who are on a similar path, we interact, share stories and find a common bond. Humans in the act of ‘being.’
Now I am going to share with you my continuing journey from my first Camino that formed the basis for my book My Camino Walk – A Way to Healing. So I am taking you back to Logroño where I left off several blogs ago. Enjoy my journey.
“The countryside is pleasant and takes us past vineyards and the occasional rustic farmhouse. These have been built from large stone placed upon large stone, and despite their irregular shapes, these edifices have survived. They’re solid; nothing can knock them down. As safe as houses, they’re both rainproof and windproof. Their design seems so simple, as though preschool children using wooden building blocks could have built them. I sometimes dream of retiring to the rustic simplicity of such a structure, of living my days out here, remote from the rest of the world. Time to take out the camera to record this scene of tranquility – an image to take back home to the hectic world of Toronto, to meditate on in times of stress.”
“We seek accommodation at the refugio beside the Iglesia de Santa Domingo, where the parish priest lives. Our knocks on the large oak door summon the housekeeper, who shows us to our dormitory room on the main floor. I’m charmed by the spirit of calm that pervades this place. The residence has been immaculately maintained, probably by a team of devoted employees, and the smell of floor polish recently applied to hardwood floors permeates the air, as though all has been done to prepare for the arrival of…God?
“‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’ I never saw the connection. The saying originates from early Babylonian and Hebrew writings. Certainly, a baptism involves the use of water and is, according to Catholic doctrine, the cleansing of original sin. During Passover, in the Judaic tradition, there is a ritual cleaning out of cupboards and the refrigerator. That seems to make good sense from a hygienic and practical perspective. I’m horrified when I find unused and spoiled food, way beyond its expiry date, that’s been sitting at the back of the fridge for God knows how long. There’s sometimes so much clutter that it’s hard to find the right ingredients needed to prepare a meal. A clear-out, or at least an inspection of inventory, would help make my life much easier. In the Islamic tradition, cleanliness is considered a fundamental of the faith. The Qur’an extends the meaning of cleanliness to include sanitizing and purifying the entire way of life, In Islam, the Arabic term for purity is taharah.
“And this Camino walk is a ‘cleaning out’ of my thoughts and a chance to reexamine my beliefs, let go of old habits and change my attitudes, some of which are deeply entrenched. It’s a chance to start again with a fresh slate unencumbered by the mistakes of the past.”