Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How We Come To Be Walking the Camino: Harold Tells the Story

On February 21, 2012, I went to my home mailbox and was surprised to find a Netflix DVD entitled "The Way" starring Martin Sheen.  I had not heard of the movie nor did I order it.  I read the blurb on the envelope and it appeared to be about hiking. 

Since Linda and I take a hiking vacation every two or three years, I assumed she had the movie sent to me so I called to thank her.  Linda said she had not heard of the movie and did not send it.  So far, I have been unable to get anyone to confess to having sent it. 

I watched the movie and discovered it was about a man walking the Camino de Santiago carrying the ashes of his son who had started his own pilgrimage but died on the first day.  

I had never heard of the Camino de Santiago.  I quickly researched it online.  I then called Linda to tell her to watch this excellent movie and told her what I had discovered about the Camino de Santiago.  I told her that St. James was the patron saint of Spain, that his symbol was the scallop shell, and that all the pilgrims who make the 500 mile pilgrimage carry a scallop shell visible somewhere on their person to indicate that they are pilgrims.

Linda said, "Dad, you do know that in our family coat of arms there are three scallop shells don't you?"  

"No, tell me about them."  
Linda said, "During medieval times, three Graham knights made this pilgrimage and that is why the scallop shells were included in our coat of arms."  

"Maybe I should make this pilgrimage," I said.

"Dad, its more than that."  (Linda's husband, Ric, is of Spanish descent.) "Do you know where Ric's family is from?" 

"Not a clue."  

She told me, "From Galicia - where the cathedral that is at the end of the pilgrimage and that holds the relics of St. James is located." 

"Maybe we both need to make this pilgrimage." I answered.

"I think so."

"When do we leave?" I asked.

We each began to try to get into condition to make the pilgrimage.  We leave Houston on September 6, 2012.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Great Moment Knocks on the Door of Your Heart

In just under two weeks, I walk out the door and begin the jouney on the Camino.  Final preparations are underway.  I'm unpacking and re-packing.  Where possible, I'm exchanging some items for others that weigh less.  I'm walking to test the fit of clothes, boots and pack, and to test the fitness of my body.  

What I can't really test is the fitness of my mind and spirit.  I guess that is what the pilgrimage is for.  

I try to imagine what the next two months will be like, what I will encounter on both the outer and inner paths.  I admit to more than a little trepidation.  I've been turning to favorite authors for what reassurance and encouragement I can find, such as this from John O'Donohue's "To Bless The Space Between Us" ("Benedictus" in the UK):


It remains the dream of every life to realize itself, to reach out and lift oneself up to greater heights.  A life that continues to remain on the safe side of its own habits and repetitions, that never engages with risk of its own possibility, remains an unlived life. There is within each heart a hidden voice that calls out for freedom and creativity. We often linger for years in spaces that are too small and shabby for the grandeur of our spirit. Yet experience always remains faithful to us. If lived truthfully and generously, it will always guide us towards the real pastures. 

Monday, August 6, 2012


in training. walking the Pacific Coast Trail. pack weighs 17 lbs. distance today = 6 miles.  (I posted this via my phone because that is what I'll be using during The Walk.)