Reflections from the Camino Trail

August 15, 2022

Pilgrimages are sacred journeys taken with a particular purpose or intention. Sometimes pilgrimages are focused on reaching the destination; other times pilgrimages are about the purpose of the journey. While walking the Camino Trail, it was difficult to not be focused on reaching the destination of the next town, especially on wet days with many miles to go, but we tried to set a focus and intention with each leg of the trip.

Whether praying a type of rosary or carrying rocks and laying those burdens down or walking silently or with gratitude, walking was the common denominator of all the spiritual practices. Walking as a spiritual practice allowed for contemplation, prayer, and meditation. Walking allowed us to connect with the nature and the beauty of creation. Walking provided opportunities to see our fellow pilgrims and greet them warmly with a “Buen Camino!” We put one foot in front of the other for hours and days and expressed gratitude for those who have shaped our faith and helped guide us on our many journeys. 

For many of us, walking in silence was difficult and powerful and beautiful, especially on the last day when we woke to the heart-shattering news of Uvalde. It was hard to not walk with heaviness, with anger, with grief, with the idea that twenty-one people were no longer walking. We were already weary and tired and hearing of the continued violence added to our frustration. With each step, prayers were made, tears fell, and cries for change rang out. 

After worshiping at the cathedral and arriving at our destination, we looked back at the beauty and difficulty of our journey. But we also looked forward to returning back to our lives and how this pilgrimage changed us and how we would bring our experiences into our lives at home or at school. For some, slowing down and appreciating moments of quiet will be new elements of life. For others, the practice of gratitude will be a new focus. However, we all agree that we can’t help but be changed by our walk, and our future walks, whether at school, in careers, or in the relationships we build, will take on a new meaning. 

We want to share this prayer written by Suzanne Baxter while on the Camino.

“God, it is so hard to see you in the midst of our broken world. But, I know you are there. I felt your presence this week in the cold rain on my skin, I heard you in the sound of the wind rustling the leaves, and I saw you in the smiling faces of strangers on the Camino. I thank you for that, but I pray that you will make your presence known back home in Texas as well. I know a prayer is not enough to fix our brokenness, but I pray that some peace can be restored. I pray that are with all those who are hurting right now, especially back home in Texas. I am weary and tired of the continuing violence and our country’s unwillingness to change. I pray that you can send your love and compassion to help us advocate and fight for justice, in hopes that some peace can be restored after yet another heartbreaking act of violence. Amen.” 

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