Extracts from my book My Camino Walk – A Way to Healing (Chapter 10)

I ask Jennifer what made her decide to walk the Camino. She explains that someone had persuaded her to have an angel card reading done.

“Angels are inner companions,” she explains. “They help guide you to where you need to be in your life. I also like to use angel cards, and other oracle cards for meditative purposes.

I was working in an office in London and getting caught up in an endless grind that was doing nothing to feed my soul. It all seemed so purposeless, and I think if I hadn’t quit, I would have been fired. I’ve needed for some while to find something more spiritually fulfilling.”

“Do you think the Camino will help you find what you’re looking for?” I ask.

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If you don’t look for the path, you never find it. If you don’t pursue a path, you stagnate. So many people settle for mediocrity and cease to dream. They lack passion and life-affirming convictions. They follow rather than look for a path that nurtures and supports them in their life’s journey.

Howard Thurman, (Boston University 1953 to 1965) theologian, educator and civil rights leader in one of his speeches extolled the virtue of following one’s passion rather than examining what the world needs in terms purely of supply and demand.

Life is a pilgrimage. There’s no right or wrong way of walking it. Jennifer was led to walk the Camino by way of angel cards. My journey began with a long period of reflection in a Cistercian monastery. The important thing is that we are on the Camino together. Chance has brought us together so that we may share our experience and learn from each other.

When I read Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales for the first time in high school, I was a little perplexed by the idea that people would share so many of their secrets with strangers. How could a bunch of people so different in wealth and status relate to each other? How could they trust each other? Some of them were so obviously the dregs of society, unprincipled and dishonest. Why would you share intimate thoughts and feelings with someone so different?

However, my group has common ground with Chaucer’s group of travellers. We’ll all on a pilgrimage. Even if our journey lacks the motive of holiness, it’s still a chance for reflexion and self-examination. The ease with which we can share our thoughts and stories is helped by the fact that we are still anonymous, in a sense, and come from different countries. Although we may remain friends at the conclusion of our Camino, in many respects we will always be worlds apart.

The way passes quickly through storytelling. Is this because the load is lighter or because the story is a distraction? Here is the dilemma: whether to lighten the load by communion with others or to stay alone but in the present moment.