This pilgrimage, which is only appropriate once every twelve years in India, caught my attention for two reasons: 1) because I was only a few months away from my own Camino Santiago de Compostela, and 2) because the number of pilgrims is so overwhelmingly immense, the news at the time this year was full of horrific stories of people being trampled to death in their quest to complete their journey. It made me think quite a bit about the lengths to which people go, in order to honor their spiritual beliefs and commitments.
I am not an expert by any means on this undertaking, but I am including a link here, in my category “Beyond the Camino” for those who are seeking to learn more about other, spiritually-based pilgrimages and/or may want to consider this one. Keep in mind, the link is a CBS news item and I can’t speak for its veracity, but I do remember when it took place recently and it seems to fit with what I heard at the time:
Hi, my fellow Pilgrims, or Pilgrims-in-the-Making,
I may have written this before, but I will say it again. It’s not my intention to focus in this category (or elsewhere on this site) on Catholic pilgrimages. I’m not even Catholic! But it is a plain fact that many pilgrimages around the world have Catholic origins and/or remain Catholic in nature to this day.
I am on a quest to find and feature not only non-Catholic but also non-Christian pilgrimages here. And I will do so. I loved the humor invoked when the William and Mary professor who spoke at the conference on pilgrimages at Georgetown U. even referred to Graceland as a type of pilgrimage! Hey, they don’t HAVE to be religious or spiritual in nature, right?!
Anyway, in researching pilgrimages for this category, I came across this one and decided to share it with you. If it doesn’t float your boat, stand by, as I really am determined to highlight lots of “unusual” pilgrimages in this category: http://www.lsap.ca
Another thought for this category and granted, This is a really wild thought, but I realized that people who attend the “Burning Man” event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert every year probably consider it a pilgrimage in its own right, too. I have never been (and have no intention of going) . . . but we know many people our own age (mid-60s) who go and swear by it! If you have never been, check it out at http://www.burningman.com but I warn you: it sounds really crazy, there is a lot of nudity, and, well, I suppose some would say even debauchery. But from what I hear, there are many aspects to Burning Man that sound quite endearing. I guess — not having tried it myself — I should say, “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!”
If you are an art lover, the “installations” that people bring from thousands of miles away are worth the trip alone, so maybe check it out?
Thanks to Ann in Kentucky for bringing it to my attention! There is also a great article from the NYTimes about a couple who walked the Camino with their two teenaged daughters, which I greatly enjoyed:
I’ve just come down from the mountain to the wonderful world of Internet coverage and I am sending you my idea about the Camino.
I would say that every new group and every new person I meet gives me another reason to love the Camino. There is something in it for everyone. Some people come with clear reasons for doing a pilgrimage, religious or other, and some come with only a vague notion of what it is about. They all take away the satisfaction of meeting the challenge in good company, treading in the footsteps of many millions of pilgrims before them.
It is humbling to put our concerns in that perspective, just as the struggle with our bodies and the terrain and the occasional absence of Internet can be humbling. It brings us down to earth; it grounds us; and, as we pass from one vista to the next, each new experience encourages us to live in the moment, enjoying the pilgrim brotherhood right here and now.
The Camino is more than just anther walking holiday and I find it endlessly gratifying to accompany people on their journey to Santiago and witness the effect it has upon them. And occasionally, some time later I may receive a letter telling how the Camino has continued to work its subtle magic bringing a new freshness to things that seemed stale and opening new sources of happiness and life. Now that is worth working for, isn’t it?
Time for my Camino reflection. When my tennis friend Tammy asked if I wanted to go do a hike with her in Spain called the Camino de Santiago, I literally had no clue what she was talking about, but I said, “Suuuuuure….”
It took me a long time to even remember what the walk was called (I had to memorize part of the name by linking it to the part car/part truck called an El Camino!) And as the time to go grew closer, I at least had figured out where we were going and Tammy had done her best to educate me about the history of the walk.
But I really wasn’t prepared for the wonderful experience our 10 days together turned out to be! What a challenge! What history! What good conversation! What breathtaking scenery! What food and wine! What a fun and friendly group of people to pal around with! What a once-in-a-lifetime experience! But I hope it’s the beginning of opportunity for all of us–and just a window to show us that life changes on a dime. Mine did–and I’m better for knowing Tammy and all of you! Thanks Tammy, Jason, Jeffery, Judy, Judy, Dale, Nancy, Pete, Liz, Francis, Karen, and Cynthia–you all made for one special April!
These two photos are from Ann’s local walk at the Nature Conservancy in Lexington, KY, only 500 yards from her home! You can see why she says she was reminded of her “home turf” walks when she was on the Camino! Thanks, Ann!
Walking, it has been said, is praying with your feet. That’s why I decided to walk the Camino. Watching my mother’s 6 year march toward death through the quagmire of Alzheimer’s and losing my best friend suddenly at the young age of 50 created in me a very powerful need to take the time to reflect, pray, and actually “feel” the spirit of those two lovely ladies.
Jumping off the hamster wheel that everyday life can become and landing on the Camino was a blessing. Our preacher calls it “making yourself vulnerable on purpose.” In our little group, there was more than one whose mother had Alzheimer’s, and there was one who had recently lost a best friend too young. All of us had great joy and great sorrow in our lives. And together we walked, we sang, we prayed, we quoted poetry,we cussed, we encouraged one another, we struggled, we laughed. We touched one another’s lives for a brief time and we shared an experience that will never be forgotten.
The Camino, for me, was a living thing. The obstacles: the rain, the streams, the cow pies, the singing frogs, the hills, are a perfect reflection of the obstacles in life. There is beauty in simply choosing to walk through those obstacles; to soldier on. Our little group did, and the sharing of the journey made all the difference.
The Camino was another chapter in my spiritual quest that brought out the many variations of faith with its legends and traditions that supply inspiration and hope for so many. The journey continues with all its mystery and excitement. And the pleasure of shouting, “I am woman. Hear me roar.” I walked 100 miles in ten days. Hooray for all of us. From Judy S.
And a P.S. from Cynthia: not that it matters that much, but the way I look at it, we covered almost the entire 100 miles in 8 days, because we were already in Santiago on Day Ten, and Day One was very short!
1. Stop competing with the other pilgrims: there will always be someone faster (and slower) than you.
2. Stop worrying about doing it right: every Camino is right, as long as it is yours.
3. Stop looking for what you came for and you will eventually find it.
i also like to picture the Camino as a metaphor of our life: we start in mysterious and dramatic Cebreiro, overwhelmed by the novelty of it all (the path, the signs, the surroundings), and we end in Santiago, which is much more tame and structured. By then, the Camino’s mystery has worn off: we understand the signage, and we are relaxed on the path knowing we will not get lost. From Jeff
“No profound reflections. However, a couple of resolutions and they are that the Camino will not be our last walking tour and that we haven’t seen the last of our ‘Camino companions.’” From Pete and Liz