Eight days, 103 kilometres. Four pilgrims.
A pause in the busyness and emotions of life.
To walk the Portuguese Camino from Porto to Valença has been a wonderful experience. Returning home to ordinary life and a busy few months ahead, it has been good to reflect on what was it that made it so special. Was this truly a pilgrimage (we never intended to go all the way to Santiago de Compostela), or just a gentle walk in the Portuguese countryside? If it was a pilgrimage, what was its significance?
Pilgrimage: The journeying of a pilgrim: a journey to a shrine or other holy place
Pilgrim: A wanderer, wayfarer: one who travels to a distance to visit a holy place: allegorically or spiritually, one journeying through life as a stranger in this world
The Camino, for me, was significant, not so much in the destination, but in the journeying itself, and the incompleteness of it. And while there was a physical aspect to it – located in a particular time and place, walking part way along the Camino towards Santiago de Compostela – it also represented a pause in that bigger pilgrimage of life. The very act of walking created stillness and presence. So I was able to lay aside the emotions and the busyness of life, neither to linger in the past nor to rush forward to the future, but simply to be present, in the present, walking – with Lois, with my parents, with our God. To appreciate beauty, stillness, silence, simplicity.
‘Petrus, on the other hand, argued that the guiding concept along the Road to Santiago was its simplicity. That the Road was one along which any person could walk, that its significance could be understood by even the least sophisticated person, and that, in fact, only such a road as that could lead to God.’
Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage, p52