Humility on the Camino

After every pilgrimage, lessons are learned. For me, after I walked 14 kilometers from Sarria to Santiago de Compostella, one stands out. This concept of universal humility.  I have been part of numerous groups, retreats, learning and work experiences over the years throughout the world.  Regardless of the people, there always seems to be a sense of one upmanship.  An individual exemplifies their status through their brand of clothes they wear, accessories, the newest tech gadgets, who they have studied with, or over the top bragging of career accomplishments.  It may not be overt, perhaps it is subtle, but it is always there.  Humility on the Camino.

         But when I walked the Camino with my tour group of 15, this did not exist.  Barriers broke in regards to status, age, country, and experiences.  It did not matter where we came from, what mattered was we showed up each day for the journey.  One has no choice but to be humbled every morning and evening, as we cared for our achy feet, blisters, back pains, or sore old wounds that re-appeared.  All of us struggled on the trip. A byproduct of struggle is humility.

Reality of the Camino

         It’s hard to be full of oneself, when one is malodorous.  Together we walked, struggled, and smelled day after day.  We wore similar clothes. Our accessories matched which were backpacks, walking sticks, and the conch shell symbolizing our status as pilgrims. This is what humbled me, or humbled us. We made the decision to walk 114 kilometers, in a day and age where everything is instantaneous. Our paths were through rural landscapes, of pastures filled with cows, dirt roads, or tiny villages.  This was not a choice to travel in a way a tourist would or take in the luxuries of the Spanish lifestyle.

  We were travelling for the sake of being a pilgrim, whether this was an adventurous bucket list item, spiritual vow, or as a way to mark transitions in our lives.  We were walking out questions in our lives, through the peaks and dips of unexpected hills, pain, joy, monotony, silence, noise, and comradery.  

Removal of Ego

         There was humility on the camino, and therefore it’s easy to remove the ego.  There’s no need for defenses, as everyone else is bowing down to the Camino.  Our authentic selves are revealed. This is a precious gift of the Camino.

         I am aware some fellow peregrinos may judge this journey. They may feel it’s cheating if you choose to do the Camino with a tour group and only the last 100 kilometers.  These individuals may point out that this is not the full 500 mile trek. They would say we cheated for walking six full days is not the entire experience.  

Yet, I do want to share the group I walked with, our hearts were pure and ready for this pilgrimage.  For many of us it’s not something we did to check off the list, but an opening towards the pilgrim way that exists within.  As I arrived in Santiago de Compostela, our guide offered words of wisdom. It is only the beginning of the journey, not the end.

         May you continue to reflect, grow, and be present on your current journey.  And maybe one day, you may meet your soul and others on the camino. I hope you find humility on the camino. Buen Camino. 

To read more about my call to camino check out this post . For a great 10 minute clip of the whole of the journey check out

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