I walked 860km across Spain: Part One
There’s so much to tell.
How do you distill months of preparation, an avalanche of emotion, sights and sounds, and essential characters – the celebration of a huge life-changing trip that just happened – into words and images?
I’m not really sure. It feels like a gargantuan task. But, I’m hoping I can do it a little bit of justice over the next few posts.
You see, it’s been a dream of mine to walk the Camino for over a decade, so, when I found out this year was the year of Mercy, I followed the call.
Today, sitting on my office sun drenched floor after having just landed back in Oz, I couldn’t be happier that I did. I made new lifelong friends. I have beautiful memories that will stay with me always, I had an experience of awakening that enlivens and enriches the way I move through life today, and I have integrated valuable lessons that will improve the lives of others.
Finding words to describe the Camino de Santiago is difficult. It’s like living life’s most valuable lessons in action.
Everyone becomes a part of your story, your journey.
It is a journey of the mind.
It is tough with a capital T. Finding meaning in the challenges, feeling joyful regardless of the pain, that’s what it’s about.
Because pain is an inevitable part of life; it’s how we deal with it that matters.
It was full of highs and some very lows, but through it all, I kept walking. And believe me, there were days where the pain was so excruciating that it felt more like crawling.
Each dimension of the Camino was part of my growth process.
Every step on the path opened insight and awareness and helped me to view my life more clearly.
Little did I know that with every step I took on my walk to Santiago, a huge change was unfolding in how I “did my life.”
It wasn’t until I returned home that layer upon layer kept being peeled back.
It is a journey to the heart.
There were many times when I felt like the compass in my heart pointed everywhere and nowhere at once. I felt lost in the space between yesterday and desire, unable to go back to yesterday, unable to find my way home.
In this space, I questioned my sense of inner-knowing, the worthiness of my desires, and the very nature of life and love.
When the foundation of our hearts feels shaky or broken and we’re unable to find ‘up’ from ‘down’, it’s hard to find our footing anywhere.
At the same time, while we’re struggling to find our footing, we are also standing on the precipice of possibility.
The greatest gift of a shaky or shattered heart is the opportunity to heal the hurts that we may not even have known were there – from our childhood, earlier relationships, even from our parents – and discover a love that’s deeper than we have ever imagined.
In the process of loving and losing, falling down and breaking open, I’ve learned a thing or two hundred about trusting, releasing attachment, residing in the heart, and coming home to self-love, again, and again… and again, and again.
The journey of loving another, at its core, is a journey home to Ourselves.
It tests our relationship to the Divine and our willingness to truly LIVE while we’re alive.
It’s the medicine that guides us to grow through misery and dance with magic.
It teaches us humility and majesty.
It seduces us back to the truth: that we are love itself.
It begs us to bow at the feet of the Divine and our parents to say, “Thank you. Thank you for this life. I am here, I am here. I am here.”
It is a journey back to the soul.
The Camino drew the nectar out of each moment, really listening into the soul of words, observing the beauty and magic around me.
There are countless moments each day to receive the beauty that’s on offer.
When I say beauty – I mean the kind of beauty that isn’t looked at, it’s seen.
And with it, the realisation that beauty isn’t just seen, it’s FELT.
I walked away wanting my life to be filled with this kind of beauty.
Because I knew that beauty would invite me right into the heart of my sensitivity, rather than numb me from it, and give me a richer and fuller experience of life.
We’re all human and messy and that’s okay.
It takes courage to see your beauty.
I met a completely different version of myself for the first time:
A woman who takes bigger risks, who pushes beyond her limits both physically and mentally because she knows she can handle it.
A woman who follows her heart with no good explanation, no logic, other than that she believes in herself and that her heart is wise.
A woman who loves herself the way a mother would love her child.
I’ve walked this walk to be truer to myself, to be clearer in my commitments, to be more courageous in my actions, to be softer in my heart.
I’ve walked this walk to be peace – free from disturbance.
There were times where I felt like I was bumping up against my capacity to receive… so much love, so much grace, so much joy and pleasure.
There were times where I felt SO much pain, I can’t conceive of how I’d deal with it again, should life ask me to.
I feel like I cleared out the cobwebs and connected with the raw pulse of my very existence.
I feel more capacity for all of it.
I feel proud of the woman I’ve been, the woman I am, and the woman I’m becoming.
I’m caring less about what people think and caring more about my overall sense of wellbeing and living.
I’m caring less about being perfect and more about deep satisfaction.
I feel welcoming of whatever I need to experience, and clearer about what I want.
I feel more willing and able to hold deep love with intention, receptivity, spaciousness, and freedom. Less attachment to it looking a certain way.
And as I sit here and collect my thoughts about this beautiful, challenging and epic journey – my body still processing the profound power and rawness of what I just went through – tears pour down numb cheeks as I try to understand how those many moments of both good and bad, could be so perfect.
The last 6 weeks was everything to me.
Which is why I have decided to devote this next 3-part series solely to imagery. I took over 1000 photos (RIDICULOUS, I know!) and I’ll be sharing my favourites with you in my next post. Plus, I’ve barely scratched the surface of my walk, so I need a little wriggle room to share. 😉
What shifts are you feeling? What are you noticing and embracing? Would love to hear in the comments below…