It has been said that when St James calls you that you start walking to Santiago de Compostela… He must have been whispering to me for a while and turned up the volume the end of February;)
I first read about the Camino in Shirley MacLaine’s book about her experience many years ago. It seemed like a wonderful thing to do…one day.
That day arrived rather unexpectedly.
Mid February my friend Deborah asked me if I wanted to go walking with her for a few weeks. She had walked the Camino from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela in 2009 and was starting to feel the calling to walk again.
The thought of being out in nature for several weeks and just walking was appealing to me so when she asked me again I said YES.
I had no idea what it would call for really… the only other times I have gone walking with a backpack was in South Africa but that was only for 4 and 5 days.
This was going to be 16 days…
Initially she had thought of going to Cathar country in France. Just as we were getting ready to book a ticket to get there the plans changed. We were at a book presentation about the Camino and both feeling excited about going walking the following week, even if it wasn’t to Santiago.
That evening I received a text message from her that the plans had changed… Her father had mentioned that it might still be rather cold in the Pyrenees so why didn’t we go on the Porto route to Santiago?…
Tina before Camino
I started to feel a fluttering in my belly and the excitement about going somewhere new was delicious.
I didn’t have a backpack so I was able to borrow one from my friend’s mum. I just had to get new shoes since my old ones had fallen apart last year in France.
So over the next 6 days I took my new shoes for a walk on the beach once and figured I would be fine.
They felt super comfortable. Just in case, I did stock up on some of those fabulous Compeed plasters for blisters.
Besides the basics for clothing, I took a cozy fleece blanket and several of my essential oils, Aura Soma bottles and muscle gel for nurturing myself.
This called for many laughs along the way as we stopped somewhere and out came the oils as I massaged my feet and put my legs in the air to recharge or just stopped somewhere to lean back:)
Trust me, having those oils with me when arriving in a hostel was a delight to our senses, especially when there were more pilgrims and their shoes were breathing…
We flew out to Porto in Portugal on Monday March 7th, the starting point of our Camino.
During the days prior to leaving I received many messages from others to take with me on my walk. When I told Mary Nalini McNab about going to Santiago she offered me a few questions to take with me. I had said that I felt as if I was going on a walk with grace, like a walking meditation to update my inner software.
The questions were: What is the grace here? How do I hold onto grace? What is here that I can let go of? How can I put this directly in the Divine’s hands to be let go of?
These questions accompanied me during my walk and really helped to remind me to surrender whatever came up to the Divine, to be optimized. This sometimes had me laughing while tears were streaming down my face…
When we arrived in Porto the first opportunity to start asking these questions appeared! Waiting for our backpacks to arrive…
you guessed it… no luggage. The connection time in Madrid had been very tight so everyone from there was gathering in the baggage office.
We didn’t know yet where we would be staying that evening so had to ask if they could phone us when the bags had arrived.
The next and last flight was coming in at 730pm and I asked the angels to ensure our bags were on that flight so we could start walking the next morning, otherwise we would have to wait until noon.
Well… the grace in this was that we were now able to go into Porto without luggage and make it to the Cathedral on time to get our ‘credencial’ to stay in pilgrim hostels along the route. When we made it to the cathedral there was nobody to be seen so we returned to the tourist office to ask where we might get our credencial. They said it was in the cathedral and it closed in 10 minutes so to hurry back.
Aha… the grace of our backpacks not arriving with us… now we could easily run back before closing time! They were just about to close the door and telling us to come back in the morning. Deborah said we had been there before but that there was nobody by the desk half an hour ago… must have been on coffee break or something! We got our passes;)
Deborah and Tina in Santiago
Here we are after 250 km… in Santiago…still smiling.
It wasn’t always like that…
Our bags arrived late that evening, just as we had found a hostel. The following morning we set out early and discovered it had been Carnivale… everywhere we walked we ran into people still celebrating and the cafe’s were filled.
As we reached the river to walk towards the beach we stopped at a little cafe to use the toilet and then strapped up again. Just as I wanted to close the chest strap…snap… it broke off! Mmm… adjusting the backpack somewhat it didn’t seem to matter so I walked on.
Over the course of the weeks the hipbuckle snapped and then on the last day one of the shoulderstraps as well! Wow, anything else and I would have had to carry the bag another way;) Every time I had to adjust it was amazing how much gratitude I felt when it somehow worked again…
We made a bit of a detour the first day and that ended up creating a stretch of well over 30 km.
Everything was going fine and I was just thinking how easy this was… then suddenly my left buttock
started to contract and after a while I could hardly walk! We were just at a junction where we had to
choose to walk on or call it a night. Deborah was walking at super speed and could have kept going.
This was my first opportunity to honor my own rhythm and listen to my body…
I told D. that if she wanted to keep going then to please do so and not let me hold her back from her
rhythm. Amazing what this brought to the surface for me…
My ‘old’ way would have been to keep going and to overstep my own boundaries because I would not have wanted to hold anyone else back… Now there was no way I could keep going so what kind of response would this elicit from others?.. From myself?…
We walked ( well, I hobbled) to a hostel mentioned in our directions and wow…was I glad to have a shower! Out came the blisters and muscle gel and oils… and my cocktail of magnesium! It was still pretty early but I was worn out.
D. kept reminding me that my body would recover during the night and that I would be amazed at its restorative healing power…
Before going away I had started to write down what I wanted to surrender and update during this journey. I also invited others to share anything they might want me to take on the walk with me so that I could clear it on their behalf.
It was really beautiful to receive the requests and to see how these were resonating with me in some way. Sometimes I thought I was ‘done’ with them…hahaha… the walk gave me the space to really clear things up.
So during the day I was taking what was on my list ( whether my own things or from others) and asking the Divine to take this from me to be optimized with every step.
I also kept on repeating the Ho’oponopono mantra: I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you.
I would notice my response to what was on the list and keep on repeating the mantra until I felt waves of love and light in me. When the topic was someone else’s then I felt these waves of love and light flowing into and through them as well. It moved me to tears many times to feel so much love and to experience how connected we all are…
In the evening I would often do a TAT ( Tapas Acupressure Technique) session to clear up whatever had accumulated and to support my body’s healing.
The first 9 days I walked and cleared… while being ever so aware of each step, the impact it had on my body and allowing the energy channels in my body to fully open.
The aches and pains were moving around, having started with my left buttock, moving to the right side and when that had balanced I had a few hours of bliss from walking without pain.
It felt as if the places in me where I had not fully taken up residence with my Soul were now being cleared and opened…
Walking was so very grounding for me and this was precisely what I had resisted for so many years…
Once those channels were open,though, the freedom I experienced awakened a whole new level of joy in me. Touching my legs and feet with such gratitude and appreciation…
It was on day 5 that I had a very profound experience. My right achilles tendon had been cramping and it was very painful to walk. I had adjusted my shoes, put on bandages, however, nothing eased the discomfort.
While walking I asked my tendon what was stored in there that was ready to be handed over the the Divine to be optimized… what was causing this pain…
I got a flash of a time long ago when I shut down my full power. I had experienced physical pain easing over the last few days while calling for help from my guides and angels, however, this was becoming so excruciatingly painful that I could hardly walk.
We happened to be on the most physically intense day of the walk, which was also the most beautiful as far as being in nature goes…
I remember talking with my tendon and saying that I was willing to heal whatever was there and then I suddenly saw one of my guides walking next to me! As clearly as I saw my friend…
He said he could show me what to do to release the pain and embrace my power again.
Mmmm… was I hallucinating?
I agreed and said that if this REALLY worked then I would never doubt again. Oh my… how stubborn can I be?!
But… this was such a crippling pain that it seemed I would need some super natural experience;)
My friend was way ahead of me and here I was limping along and accompanied by my guide.
He then started to tell me what to do and within 15 minutes the pain was completely gone.
I moved my foot around and tried all kinds of things to ‘test’ if it was really gone! Yep, a persistent part of me!
IT WAS GONE! Wow… for the rest of that day’s journey he walked beside me and reminded me of many things I had forgotten and answered many of my questions. He said he would be with me throughout this journey and then gave me an assignment for the next few days to anchor this new frequency in my body and energy field.
Then I reached the top of the steep climb and… actually ran down the hill!!! Just a short while ago I was limping…now I was running and feeling light as a feather.
0 km point Finisterre
Over the next few days I did as I had been instructed and I felt the energy shift and healing occur as I walked and sometimes while I was resting.
When I woke up on day 10 I knew the clearing was done. Now it was time to walk and ‘simply’ enjoy the rest of the walk. Free from aches and pains, light in my soul and heart…
That day I sang : ‘I am love, I am beauty, I am bliss!’ the whole way and it felt sooooo good!
Something deep within me had shifted… I wondered what everyone on my list had been experiencing these last few days.
I would sometimes catch myself thinking in the past that I was too small to make a difference when it came to contributing love to events elsewhere in the world…
When I heard about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan I spent the entire day holding everyone there in my heart and repeating the Ho’oponopono mantra. Asking for forgiveness if any part of me had contributed to this in any way… apologizing for the grief and chaos…. seeing huge waves of love pouring from my heart to everyone there… and thanking them for bringing this into my awareness so whatever was there to be optimized by the Divine could now be completed.
I felt deeply connected to everyone and had a deep sensation of the difference I was making by what I was doing.
Never again will I doubt that I do affect the whole.
Arriving in Santiago was quite an experience as well… about 2 km out I really needed a rest so we lay down in a grassy field to enjoy the sunshine and put my feet up. My lower right quad had been playing up for a while and made it a bit of a challenge when walking down any hill. So… I called on my guides and asked for a healing. They arrived and infused so much love into me that it felt as if I had just been plugged into an electrical socket and had a love surge!
When I got up the pain was gone… and we walked the last few km to arrive at the Cathedral. I have never seen anything like it… maybe I will write about it another time.
We had a day off in Santiago to enjoy the city and then had just enough time to go to Finisterre, another 90km, to the final stop of the Camino. Where they used to think the earth ended.
For me this was the most beautiful part of the walk, maybe also because of the contrast of the city to being completely in nature again for the entire walk.
When we reached the 0 km signpost it dawned on me that this Camino had been like a retracing of the steps I had taken in my life, the choices I had made which had gotten me to where I was now… and having cleared the energy of this that I now had the chance to start again.
Shredding the release list
I walked to the place where many pilgrims before me have burned something from their walk and I shredded the release list and released it to the wind… FREE!
Time to create a new story…
The seeds have been planted… taking the Camino into my ‘normal’ life… I had no idea yet what it would be like to be back home again. Walking had become such a way of living these past few weeks that I can imagine doing this again but then for even longer…
Arriving back at Schiphol I was greeted by the radiant smile of my dear friend Carla as she waited for me in the arrivals hall! Oh, how it made me smile inside and out to see her again. And Paul was waiting for us outside. Reunion time with my dearest friends;)
Over dinner we shared our experiences of the past few weeks and then they took me home. So weird to walk into my home again and being able to sleep in my own bed… Heavenly…
To be flying that day and then to be in a car after walking all those miles felt odd… my body wanted to move…
The Camino insights are settling into my life now and I feel they will continue to integrate for a while.
Walking is an amazing metaphor for life… unless we take a step then we don’t go anywhere.. and where we go depends on the choices we make. Mmm…. to be continued!