Archbishop Jason Gordon

Archbishop

Why Do People Walk The Camino?

Why Do People Walk The Camino?

This is a hot topic on the Camino? Many people open the conversation with other pilgrims with this question: “So why are you walking the Camino?”  At the bus station waiting on the bus for Saint Jean Pied du Port I was engaged by three young people separately with this question. Each re-emerged during the Camino in different ways. 

This is the story of Christina, who ended up sitting next to me on the bus that first night. She was tired and anxious as we approached the city of our destination and the beginning of the Camino. 

I was distracted by booking a hostel to stay that night as it was getting late. She was asking all sort of practical questions and I was part reassuring her and part scaring her. But we met and hit it off.  We met several times along the way and recognized each other. On the fourth day we were siting for breakfast in a small village and she said to me, “Rumour has it you are a priest, is it true?”  I told her, sometimes, not too often, rumours are true, and this one was. We laughed and she teased me for not being adventurous, for ordering a ham sanguage, and we were on our way. 

Much later in the day at Muruzabal Christina was sitting on the pavement. I went up to greet her but felt she wanted something more, so I took off my back pack and sat. Her story came tumbling out. Christina had lost her sister six years before in a car crash, and on the night of the funeral her friend died in a crash on his way home from the funeral. She was distraught, shut down and angry for years. The double grief led her to believe that God was punishing, vengeful and capricious. Her God-image came directly from her loss. God was a good place to put all her rage and anger.

I spoke to her about my loss of Shane my nephew, in September 2015 and about what we had learnt about Shane after he died; the great stories that we heard from his friends and the incredible impact he had on the planet during his short life. 

Grief is a very human emotion and it blinds us to the obvious. She was asking the wrong questions and so going down a dead end road rather than up a mountain of encountering God. 

The years of grief had its deep impact on her and she has learnt many lessons from it. Now recovering from grief and its impact, Christina has a deep desire to help young women make better choices in life. Her grief has become a channel of Grace and an invitation from God to experience His unconditional love. 

Christina did not come to the Camino; it was the Camino that called her to resolve the many questions that Life has thrown at her. By walking she has been resolving the questions, by speaking she is gaining perspective. Now she stands at a crossroad and needs to make many decisions--is God a God of judgement and punishment or a God of love and unconditional forgiveness. If God is love, then every experience in her short and wonderful life needs to be reinterpreted from the key of LOVE. This work will continue long after the Camino.

Here on the Camino Christina was able to speak about her pain, her regret and ultimately her need to forgive herself and others. By walking, Christina has fallen into the hands of a loving God who was walking with her all this time. She just could not see it that way.

During our conversation she kept saying that I reminded her of her priest back home. What she was really saying was that her priest and I both reminded her of God who was an unconditional Lover who was inviting her home. 

 

Why do we walk the Camino? Well the better question is why does the Camino call so many of us? It was the Camino that brought both of us together on that first night that we approached Saint Jean Pied du Port, and again, four days later to resolve many life questions. This is Grace at work in the depths and unconsciousness of our lives. If we can hear it, and if we accept it, we may come to encounter the God of unconditional love who called us to the Camino.

 

+Bishop Jason

The Spirit Is Blowing
Where You Look Is How You Walk