The adventure starts in less than one month. I depart from San Diego on my way to St. Jean Pied de Port on September 3! As this fact begins to really hit home, I have begun reflecting more and more on just what I have gotten myself into. I can identify a number of emotions and feelings that are directly related to the Camino. I definitely am excited about the prospect of my pilgrimage. Ever since I first caught the Camino bug, my mind has had this special processing center at work in the background, grinding out logistical details and trying to figure out just why I am doing this. I can’t wait for the imagineering (apologies to Walt Disney) to become reality. There is an intense feeling of anticipation as the departure day draws closer.
At the same time, I feel a sense of nervousness. I don’t really know what to expect in spite of a good deal of reading and study on the topic. Other pilgrims have told me this is perfectly normal. I am convinced that the best thing I can do will be to take that first step and, God willing, keep on walking. I worry about the logistics of the trip. I have spent considerable time and energy trying to anticipate everything that might happen during the trip (an impossible task, I am sure). I have laid out daily itineraries, created detailed packing lists, made most of the travel arrangements, and still feel that I must be missing something big.
I still grapple with questions about why I am going on this pilgrimage and what I hope to get out of it. What will I learn and how will I change as a result of the experience. Part of the answer is that I have become enchanted with the sense of romance and adventure that is associated with the Camino. Part of it is to prove to myself that I can accomplish this in spite of any physical or intellectual challenges I might face. Part of it is to merge with the fellowship of Camino pilgrims extending back over a thousand years and to become connected in a real way with the host of pilgrims who have already completed their Caminos.
I’m still not totally sure of what I hope to gain from this experience beyond a sense of accomplishment. I expect that the scenery will be beautiful, the people warm and supportive, the food and drink wonderful. I also expect that accommodations will be very basic at best, that body aches and pains will be common, that questions about my personal resolve and motivations will arise, that the terrain and weather will prove daunting at times, and who knows what else. But, I also hope to grow closer to God, to somehow become a better person, to have lots of time for personal reflection and contemplation, and to grow more fully appreciative of the beauty of nature and of other people. I hope I won’t be disappointed or discouraged during this endeavor and I pray that Clint and I will be able to complete this adventure and come out the other end as better people than we were when we went in.