Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Preparing for the Camino de Santiago in 2016

Credentials from my 2014 Camino de Santiago pilgrimage

Once again, I'll be walking the Camino de Santiago, leaving Los Angeles on May 12, 2016.

Rather than starting in the traditional city of St Jean Pied-de-Port, France and following the Camino Frances, I will start in Lourdes, France. This small city sits at the foot of the French Pyrenees mountains. Starting there will add an additional 130 km (81 miles) or so, depending on the route I decide to take, on top of the typical 800 km (500 miles). Based on past experience, I will likely walk another 100 miles just wandering the villages sight-seeing churches and landmarks.

Why start in Lourdes?

My 2014 camino pilgrimage was pretty much about me. It was an opportunity to discover myself, to pursue some discernment about vocation, to explore my purpose. The pilgrimage was also an appropriate way for me personally to celebrate my 50th birthday year.

And as you may have read from my blog postings from the 2014 journey, I noticed that numerous people needed to be with other people, needed to share their lives and pains and joys, needed to find healing. It touched me that they would share this with me. I found it amazing that I could minister to their needs and offer an ear, a heart, a touch that could provide solace or healing. My 2014 blog postings are on the right side navigation: Preparing for the Camino de Santiago 2014 and my posts during and after at Camino de Santiago 2014.

So I'll start in Lourdes, France. Lourdes has been known for two centuries as a pilgrimage site of healing. Millions of people every year head to Lourdes to be blessed. By touching, tasting, and washing with the waters of that community, the pilgrims seek to move from a place of illness and hurt to one of reconciliation and well-being.

I will start out with my own efforts to find healing. As the phrase goes, "physician heal thyself". First, I want to have a couple days of reflection, self-care, and attention to physical and spiritual health. Then, taking some of the healing water with me in a container, I will carry the blessed waters from the Lourdes grotto and take it on the camino with me.

And all who wish to be anointed with the holy water, to be blessed in prayer, are welcome to that water. I will share the blessings with all who seek it, and pray that they be healed.

I've confided to some that my 2016 camino will be all about others. I amend and correct myself publicly now. One can never take a pilgrimage for others. One takes a pilgrimage for themselves. But, my camino will be a shared camino. In sharing the holy water, in sharing the healing, in allowing myself to be in communion with others, I will find myself fed and nourished, and share in the bountiful grace of God. That's my camino in 2016. That's why I will start in Lourdes.

I may be walking with friends from church along this trip. If schedules work out, I'll be meeting some at St. Jean-Pied-de-Port. Others might be joining us in other cities and villages. Because of this, I will walk on average 25 km (15 miles) each day instead of my normal 35-40 km (22-25 miles) . This is related to making my journey a part of others' lives and not about my own. My husband Stephen, after school lets out and he goes on his annual teaching vacation, will fly out and join me in Leon - a 300 km (200 mile) pilgrimage.

In the meantime, my camino walk continues. I'm rather surprised at my attraction to walking now. I used to walk around downtown Pasadena. Instead of driving to various places or to church, I would just walk. Now, I work from home. That actually began the month before my 2014 pilgrimage. And surprisingly, I walk everywhere now. I've walked to family gatherings in Glendora almost 40 km away.

It started gradually, with about 5-7 mile walks every other day. Now I find myself walking to downtown Pasadena from home, an almost 10 mile round trip, several times a week. Rather than driving to lunch, I just walk. As of this posting, I've walked 1360 miles since New Year's Day, about the distance from New York City past University of Nebraska in Lincoln. I don't even notice the physical part any more. It's part of my journey in mind, body, and spirit. I'm seeking more time away from busy interpersonal interactions to have time with myself, time to ponder and free associate, time to reflect and pray.

(Note: For 2015, I ended up walking 2100 miles. That's the distance from NY to Salt Lake City... Los Angeles to Pensecola Florida... Chicago to Mexico City... Manchester England to Istanbul Turkey...)

I hope you join me, online or even along the Camino Frances, walking beside me as I journey towards my journey of healing.

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