All posts by Coach Lillie

I' exploring the world, discovering new things and learning every day!

Salas to Tineo: You’ll Never Walk Alone

Oviedo –> Grado –> Salas –> Tineo –> Sumblismo –> Berducedo –> Castro –> A Fonsagrada –> O Cadavo –> Lugo –> Ferreira –> Castaneda –> Amenal –> Santiago de Compostela

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You’ll never walk alone.

The first time I heard this saying was from my good friend and work colleague, Eric Schwartz. For context: at Equinix I was responsible for a massive, global business systems and process program and we were all struggling. As the leader, I felt responsible and as people say “leadership can be lonely,” which is exactly how I felt. Well, I think my friend Eric sensed that and sent me a huge Liverpool Football Club flag and emblazoned on it were the words, “you’ll never walk alone.” According to Discover Music on ClassicFM.com, “legend has it that the motivating effect of the fans singing You’ll Never Walk Alone gave the players hope when all seemed lost. This small act of defiance in the face of adversity galvanised the Liverpool team, and they managed to pull back and win the match on penalties, crowning them European Cup Champions.” I will never forget this incredibly kind act by Eric.

As I was walking from Salas to Tineo I was struck by the same thought. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we are all blessed to have come into (and go out of) our lives, just like I have been blessed to have people to walk with on the Camino. But even when no one was walking with me, I never felt alone. I think I can attribute this to the love of family and friends that you feel in your heart, the connectedness to nature as you walk amongst the trees and over the mountains, and the belief in the divine that is strongest when you are still, not physically but in your mind. The Camino has reminded me that I will never walk alone.

Leaving Salas and entering the mountains

The morning walk out of Salas was pretty much straight uphill and vigorous, which is a wonderful way to start the day. About 2 kilometers outside of town there was a 250 meter detour to go see a waterfall or cascada in Spanish. This was a beautiful little waterfall and I took a short video of it to share with you:

My favorite waterfall poem came to mind and is very apropos for the Camino:

Venture out for there’s a new path to find.
Let it become delightful as an exquisite fine wine.
Follow the river to the waterfall. Observe the power it holds to create a wall. Allow it to release all that holds you back, 
especially any thought for what you think you lack.
See it become the key to uncovering what the vinedresser engrafts. Take an unexpected walk through the spring rain, explore the caverns, make mindfulness your aim. 
Move with freedom, to the valley below let it reveal what is in its rhythmic flow. Leave the ties of yesterdays tears, come away renewed and without fear. 
Allow the day to form something unexpected, 
as you listen in the quiet with a heart that is deeply affected.

The sound of the waterfall and the words of this poem made me raise my arms in pure joy:

After this wonderful little respite, my friends Loretta and Rosella and I — we were walking together this morning — climbed back up to the main trail and recommenced our journey.

As we continued the morning climb, we started to separate as I went at a slightly faster pace. The solitude of the Camino washed over me and my thoughts wandered as I observed the beauty of the land and listened to the slight breeze in the trees above my head. I loved this morning.

Pilgrim bench

Fresh blackberries

A cross on the Camino

Marking the Way…

Such a fertile valley, corn growing everywhere

My first view of the mountains a few kilometers from Tineo.

As I walked out of the fields filled with corn and/or hay, I entered the town of Tineo. The Camino followed a quaint, lamp-lined path above the city and offered amazing views of both the town and of course the spectacular mountains to the south:

“Viator horam aspice et abi viam tuam” which means “Traveler look at the hour and continue on your way.”

The medieval town of Tineo, a major pilgrim stop in the Middle Ages. In fact the Asturian King Alphonse II decreed in 1222 that pilgrims must stop at both Tineo and the Monastery of Obona (9 km past Tineo).

As I entered the narrow streets of the town, I was a little weary but also excited for the evening meal of fabada and the next few days in the mountains. I reflected on all of the feelings and emotions felt during the day, and a wave of gratitude rushed over me. I felt at peace.

Sharing a meal with friends (the fabada is in the bowl), after which it was time to do laundry! 😉

As I took my now fresh clothes back to my room and laid my head down to rest, I thought of lesson #4 of the Camino:

You’ll never walk alone.

Goodnight and Buen Camino,

Brian

The journey from Grado to Salas…new friends and new perspectives

Oviedo –> Grado –> Salas –> Tineo –> Sumblismo –> Berducedo –> Castro –> A Fonsagrada –> O Cadavo –> Lugo –> Ferreira –> Castaneda –> Amenal –> Santiago de Compostela

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Buenos Días, amigos! Como estas? (Okay that is about it for my Spanish… learning more every day though!)

Actually, I have been using Google translate to have some pretty decent conversations with people on the Camino, albeit it is a bit awkward to walk and type at the same time! 🙂 But I do have to share with you this wonderful new app I found that allows me to speak into the iPhone and in near-realtime it translates to the language of choice. It is amazing! I have used it to have conversations in Spanish, Italian and Portugese, and it has really opened up the communications channels between pilgrims. People are passing the phone back and forth, speaking into it in their native tongue, and it translates into the language of the other person the are talking to. It’s brilliant! Check it out: Speak & Translate, it is an absolutely brilliant tool! Now back to the journey…

Grado to Salas

Despite a fitful night listening to dogs barking on the streets of Grado, I woke up fairly early and went down for a quick breakfast, cup of coffee and a few chats with the other pilgrims. The breakfast room was full of people and conversation and laughter, and there were no empty tables available. So I asked a young woman sitting by herself if I could sit in one the empty chairs at her table. She replied “yes” in English (!) and in between quick gulps of food and sips of coffee we chatted and I learned that she was from Toronto, Canada and on her first Camino. The conversation was brief as we both wanted to get on our way…so we said “Buen Camino” and went on our way. More on this young woman a little later…

The hike out of Grado was pretty steep as the trail rose over 1000 feet in a relatively short time. While I was climbing I was treated to a stunning sunrise as the sun worked its way through the mist over the sleepy, agrarian countryside:

As the sun broke through, the outlines and shapes of this beautiful land started to sharpen and life started its day (or maybe I just started to see it):

This was such a stunning start to my morning that I didn’t notice I had already climbed 1,000 feet and was starting to level out onto a beautiful country lane lined with a stunning hydrangea wall:

What a glorious morning! I loved waking up to the world this way and feeling I was waking up with it, truly happy to be alive and on the Camino.

As I walked up the mountain and by the rolling farmland, I was presented with a grand vista of the valley on the other side:

As I started my descent down into the valley, a couple of young men caught up with me on the trail. They were laughing and smiling and talking, and stopped at a bridge to take a photo. They were speaking English, so I asked them if they would like me to take a photo of them together. They said yes and I took their picture — here they are (I asked if I could share their photo and stories in my blog post and they said yes):

After taking the photo we just naturally started walking together. No one said a thing, no one asked, it just happened naturally and the conversation just flowed. Their names are Ken and Kyle and they are brothers, originally hailing from Portland, Oregon. They were hiking the Camino with their father who had left the aubergue a few hours earlier to get on the trail (he’s an early morning guy, they are not — sounds familiar:)) The older brother Ken went to Carleton College in Minnesota (wonderful liberal arts college…my bias), and when I asked Kyle where he went to school he simply said, “Carleton…my brother really liked it so I went too.” It was clear that that these two brothers really liked hanging out together, a sight to warm a dad’s heart. I asked them where they were living now and found out they both live and work in San Francisco, Ken at Blend and Kyle at Air BnB, and they both just love to be outside. They were bright and thoughtful lads, and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation with them. But I soon saw that they were ready to motor to try and catch their dad, so I bid them farewell, and soon they disappeared in front of me. Buen Camino, Ken and Kyle.

As I continued my walk to Salas, through the small and lovely towns of Doriga and Cornellana, I continued to be touched by the beauty of Asturias:

Beautiful, no? I walked alone for the next couple of hours, enjoying the peace and quiet, lost in thoughts of my own sons and how much I thought all three of them would love the Camino. One day.

Around noon I crossed the Nonaya river, meandered through the cute yet bustling town of Cornellana, and started to climb again on a path up the hillside, just past the Monastery of San Salvador, a ~1,000 year old monastery still in operation.

I enjoyed the shade of the trees while climbing the hillside as it was starting to get hot. After a bit of hard walking, I saw two people on the trail ahead of me, and as I approached them I saw that it was Christine from breakfast and her friend Adrienne. I offered to take a photo of them as they didn’t have one from this section of the Camino, and the said yes. As with Ken and Kyle, I asked if I could present their photo and stories in my post and they also said yes:

Again without a word, we starting walking and talking together on the Camino. These young women were also very bright, engaging and articulate, both having graduated from college in Canada with undergraduate and graduate degrees, and both working hard to make their way in the world. Christine works for the Canadian government in an agency chartered with supporting families that are victims of violence, and was very well-versed and clear spoken in her role in creating or running programs to help these families. We was passionate about her work and it came through in what she shared. Adrienne had just finished her masters degree and was working as a graphic/digital artist for a firm that creates teaching aids, tools and apps. She was excited about her new role and new company (just started in June), but she also shared a very insightful comment that this was a tough transition. When I asked her to say a bit more, she said that transitioning from college to “real life” is hard; you have been in school your whole life — elementary, junior high, high school, undergrad, maybe graduate school — and then it’s over. The event is celebrated but then it’s time to start work, earn money, pay bills and the only structure there is is just that…and that it is a bit unsettling and takes time to get in a rhythm that works. Wow! That comment really hit me because I have been talking (selfishly) about my transition and how “unsettling” it is, when my wonderful, recently graduated college daughter Natalie, has probably been experiencing some of the same things that Adrienne described. Further, maybe this transition home has been hard on Jill or the other family members. Man, I really need to get out of my own “deal” and learn to be more empathetic… the first lesson of the Camino. After this wonderfully enlightening talk, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Buen Camino, Christine and Adrienne.

By this time it was late afternoon and I was close to Salas, the beautiful medieval town of Salas. What a place! I felt like I had gone back in time:

As I walked into town this young woman approached me in front of the little grocery store and asked in perfect English if I had a place to stay yet or if I was hungry. I said yes, I had already booked Hotel Castillo de Valdes, but I had no plans for lunch. She asked if I could come up for lunch at her and her husband’s new hotel/albergue/restaurant. She said her husband made the best paella and that I would not be disappointed. I said yes, I would go after I checked in and dropped everything off in my room.

Around 4 pm I walked to their place, located right on the Camino but at the far end of town…5 minutes walk, but after all of the other aubergues and hotels. When I saw it I was stunned – it was brand new and beautiful! So tastefully done and with views to spare – check it out:

I especially loved the all-wood finishes and the painting of the Camino Primitivo under the bar. Patricia and her husband came over to the table, he introduced himself, and then asked me what I would like to eat. He asked if the “pilgrim menu” was okay and I said yes. I am not sure pilgrims could eat any better!

Sorry about this last picture, I took a bite before I took the photo! 🙂

Actually, it was this Brazilian dessert that brought the story of Casa Sueno to me. Patricia told me that she was from Brazil and came to Spain to walk the Camino Frances. She was a lawyer in a very large firm in São Paulo, doing mergers and acquisitions for large corporate clients in Brazil (explains her proficiency with english). Well…on the Camino Frances she met her husband and she said it was “love at first sight.” She was very stressed at that point in her life and decided to marry her husband, leave Brazil, and build a place on the Camino. Now she and her husband are the proud owners Case Sueno (Dream House), and working hard to get the business going (only opened for 3 months). I gave her several suggestions and she wrote them all down, including getting into the Camino guidebooks (I showed her several popular ones), the Camino apps that have embedded booking tools (e.g., Wise Pilgrim), and also thinking about demand gen using social media. It was a fairly intense conversation as she knows all of this but has very little time, as she also has a 15-month old baby! But I saw in this little family a passion and drive to make their dream (house) work. I told her I would do everything I could to help them be successful, including connecting her to my dear friend from Stanford, Raphael Silva, as he is also Brazilian, also worked for big corporate in Brazil (Bank Itau), but now he is moving over to to run a private albergue on the Camino Frances in Vega de Valcarce. She was both excited and grateful to have these conversations, and said we would keep in touch, and of course she wished me a Buen Camino.

Dear friends, the reason I spent so much time introducing you to these wonderful people and sharing their stories, is that it hit me that the Camino is a metaphor for life. People come into our lives, sometimes for a brief moment sometimes longer, for reasons we don’t know and maybe won’t know unless we open up a little and share a bit of our life journey with them, ask them questions, and sincerely care about their answers. All of these people you briefly met today — Ken, Kyle, Christine, Adrienne and Patricia — all have different stories and different perspectives, yet all of them influenced my journey on the Camino. I only shared a sliver of what we talked about, but hopefully it gave you some insight into life on the Camino if you are open to it. And my learning — other than the clarion call to continue my journey in developing true empathy on a deeper level with my family and friends — is to appreciate what different people bring to the table, their perspectives, their wisdom, and their stories. I think it’s a lesson for us all to welcome more people into our lives.

Lesson #3 of the Camino.

Buen Camino,

Brian

Oviedo to Grado: A day of sunshine…and joy

Oviedo –> Grado –> Salas –> Tineo –> Sumblismo –> Berducedo –> Castro –> A Fonsagrada –> O Cadavo –> Lugo –> Ferreira –> Castaneda –> Amenal –> Santiago de Compostela

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Hello Friends,

First of all I want to express my gratitude to many of you for your kind words of support and love after my illness in Oviedo. I am really happy to announce that since Sunday afternoon I have had no head pain, and I am so grateful for your support as I walk the Camino pain-free. On the wings of love (and prayers)…

The joy-filled way from Oviedo to Grado

On Monday morning, I packed up my things, filled my Osprey Hydration system with water (it’s a 3 liter bladder that fits inside of my backpack) and said goodbye to the people at the hotel and headed out for the Cathedral San Salvador in Oviedo. I arrived there at about 8:45 am (I got a bit of a late start due to my continuing challenge with sleeping), touched the stone of the cathedral by the front door, took a quick photo and headed out to find the signs to the Camino.

So a bit of explanation on the signs of the Camino. The road to Santiago are marked throughout by scallop shells, symbols that represent the pilgrimage to Santiago. Here is what it looks like:

The symbol also tells you which way to go, as the side with many lines converging in the center symbolizes the many paths one can take to Santiago de Compostela, thus the base of the shell is representative of Santiago itself. In many places you will also have yellow arrows indicating the direction. I can tell you, in a busy city like Oviedo with the many cross-crossing streets, these signs were a Godsend in finding my way to the Camino. Here is an example of the Camino markings I found in the city:

I knew I had found the beginning of the Camino when I found this pilgrim statue on the edge of town:

“As a testimony to the first pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela by the King of Asturias Alphonse II El Casto.”

It was an absolutely perfect day for a walk and the Way did not disappoint… the walk from Oviedo to Grado was incredibly beautiful and peaceful, with wide views of the lush, green valley. I loved this walk very much, as I was happy, feeling healthy and strong and ready for whatever the day brought. Look at the beauty I spent the morning in:

After walking for a couple of hours by myself in this tranquil, verdant land, I came to the small chapel Carmen, and I met the first of the “Camino Angels.” The Camino Angels are people who live on or near the Camino and help Pilgrims. They are wonderful, beautiful souls, and truly genuine in wanting to help people on the Way. A gentleman stationed there welcomed me to view the chapel and asked if I would like to take a look at the chapel and also get a stamp for my credencial del peregrino (also known as the “pilgrim passport.”) I think I forgot to mention that when you walk the Camino, you obtain a passport from the government and along the way you receive stamps (sellas) in it from the various churches, cultural landmarks or pilgrim hostels (called an aubergue in Spain) that you visit. When you reach Santiago, you present your passport at the pilgrim office in Santiago to prove your journey and to receive your Compostela, a document of completion awarded to those who walked 100 km or more to Santiago. I had received three stamps in Oviedo, one from the Cathedral itself, one from the pilgrim office, and one from the Church of San Julian that I wrote about in my last post. Here is my credencial del pelgrino:

I told the gentleman that I would love to look *and* get a stamp in my credencial, but what I would really like is a picture with him. Although he spoke no English (and my Spanish is terrible), he understood, smiled and said “si.” Here he is with me at Chapel Carmen (I know he may not look like it, but he was happy to take a picture with me) 😉

And here is my stamped credencial:

After his brief stop, I returned to my walk, enjoying the warmth of the sun, the beauty of the flowers, the fruit-laden apple trees (there are thousands of apple trees here), and the life-giving rivers of Asturias:

By the time the ~16 miles had passed and the late afternoon arrived, I was ready to get to my destination and take a load off of my feet. As I begin the small ascent into the town of Grado, a couple of pilgrims from Italy joined in the last steps with me and the celebration of arriving at our first destination on the Camino Primitivo: Grado.

In Grado, I stayed in my first albergue, La Quintana. The proprietors were very nice, the room was cozy and warm, and the food was wonderful. Here are a few photos to give you a sense of the warmth and “homeyness” of the place:

As I close for the evening, I simply can’t express the feeling I had walking in this beautiful land on my first Camino. Most of the times I walked alone, sometimes I walked with other pilgrims, but what I can express is that the sense of peace and joy I felt while I was walking was overwhelming. I always loved the outdoors but this felt different. Here in the Asturian countryside, as I deeply breathe in the past and present of this place, I think I am learning in my soul that the simplest things in life are the best. While I dearly miss my family, I also feel that there is something to getting reconnected with yourself because when you do, you can be better for others.

Lesson #2 from the Camino.

Buen Camino,

Brian

The road to Oviedo and true empathy

Hello Friends,

Sorry for the delay in writing but it has been an eventful journey to Oviedo and Sunday night, the night before my walk to Santiago begins. I am excited to begin, but wanted to share with you the experience so far.

The flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt was uneventful, except for a conversation with the flight attendant who said walking the Camino is a dream for him. I said it was the same for me, and dreams do come true. It was a great conversation and I think we both left it more inspired than when we began talking.

The flight leaving Frankfurt was a bit late and as a result I arrived in Madrid around 4 pm. I went straight to the hotel and, after a brief workout, went to dinner in the hotel. The meal was lovely, but more important were the conversations with the staff at the front desk and in the dining room – they were heartwarming and inspirational. Marisa told me about how her father had just walked the Camino and cried when he got home; Fernando told me that he and his father walked it together and it was the most special time of his life. Maria and Rodrigo all said they can’t wait to do the Camino, and held their hands over their hearts when they spoke about the people (and the food :)) of Asturias and Galicia. And Jorge said that “the world today is all about me, me, me, but on the Camino it’s all about us, pilgrims and their hosts along the way.” I was so inspired! I also felt grateful that I have this opportunity to walk the Camino – truly blessed.

Dessert in Madrid: Homemade goat cheese, raspberries and quints.

The next day I decided to take the train from Madrid to Oviedo, a 4 1/2 hour train ride through the beautiful Spanish countryside. Here is the route:

I am so happy I decided to do this rather than flying! The terrain changed from dry and sparse vegetation to the much more green, mountainous region of Asturias. I tried to take some pictures from the fast-moving train…here are a couple that hopefully will give you a sense of the beauty and majesty of the land:

I can’t believe what I am seeing, and am even more excited about hiking in those mountains! Needless to say, the train ride to Oviedo was a breathtaking surprise.

Oviedo

I arrived at the Oviedo train station at 7 pm Friday night and as I exited the train, I met the first two fellow Pilgrims from Ontario, Canada. I also received my first “Buen Camino,” wonderful words to hear after so many months planning! I walked the 3 kilometers to my hotel near the old town, dropped off my gear, and went for a walk to see the Cathedral of San Salvador and the surrounding area. What a site to see! The old town of Oviedo is beautiful, clean and filled with friendly people. It was a wonderful welcome to the city. Here are a few pics for you to imagine the walk from the hotel to the cathedral:

It was a lovely evening and a warm welcome to the city. After a brief stop to eat a local meal of jamon (ham), cheese and bread, I thought this was an absolutely perfect evening…and that is when the troubles began.

That evening I ended up with the worst (and I think only) migraine of my life. I didn’t sleep at all because of the pain, and the next day I ventured out to the town to try and find a pharmacy to see if they could prescribe something for the pain. Well I found a nice pharmacist in old town, and he prescribed some migraine medicine and suggested I go to the hospital to get checked out. I, of course, chose to just take the medicine, drink a ton of water and “walk it off.” I had planned to stay in Oviedo through at least Sunday so I could see the UNESCO Heritage churches in the area, and I thought the walk would do me good. It ended up being a wonderful afternoon as the pain in my head had significantly lessened and I was fortunate to visit three churches from the 8th century(!): the Church of San Julian, the Church of Santa Maria del Naranco and the Church of San Miguel de Lillo. I felt like I went back in time…here’s a a picture of each for you:

Church of San Julian

Church of Santa Maria del Naranca

Church of San Miguel de Lillo

I actually had the opportunity to sit in on a tour of the Church of San Julian, and the paintings on the wall from 1200 years ago were vivid and extraordinary. However, my personal favorite was San Miguel because of the peace I felt as I sat in its presence for 20 minutes.

At this point I had walked about 3 km from town up the hill and was quite hungry. I decided to stop by at a restaurant on my way down the hillside. What a great decision! The views from table on the covered outdoor area were spectacular, and the locally famous “fabada” — a stew with large white beans and sausage — was delicious. Enjoy!

At this point, all was right with the world and my head was seemingly fine. After dinner I walked the 3 km back to my hotel, took the medicine and went to sleep. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case as the migraine returned in full force. After another night of severe pain and no sleep, I decided to take the pharmacist’s advice and go to the hospital. Oh my goodness, what an ordeal! First of all, I want to thank all of the staff at the HUCA hospital for the care they gave to me, including the doctors, nurses, MRI technicians (brain scan), and administrative staff. Second, I want to thank Google for the ability to search and learn and ultimately say “no” to the medicine they wanted to prescribe to me (look up nolotil: it is outlawed in the US, UK, Ireland and Sweden for deaths resulting from side effects). And third, I would like to thank the kind taxi driver, that upon discovering that the hospital had forgotten to remove the IV implant in my arm, took me to a clinic close to the hotel and went in with me to ensure I was taken care of and then took me to the hotel. God bless him.

So what does this mean for my dream to walk the Camino? Well, as of midnight I am pain free and I am planning to start my walk to Grado first thing in the morning. This is 25 km and depending on how I feel I may not make it that far, so I have a backup plan of Escamplero which is only 13 km away and has an albergue (hostel for Pilgrims) where I can stay. All prayers are welcomed.

Before I close for the night, I’d like to say a few words about the importance of moving from compassion to true empathy. As I went through these couple of days of severe pain from a dehabilitating migraine, I realized very clearly that I hadn’t been empathetic enough when my son went through a few years of painful migraines. While I was compassionate toward him, I was never truly empathetic for his situation and the pain he was in. I never moved from compassion, the ability to feel for another living being, to true empathy, where I put myself completely in his shoes and imagined what he was going through, in essence becoming one with his distress. This thought washed over me like a tidal wave and I had to call him and tell him that I loved him and was deeply sorry for not being as empathetic a father as I should have been when he was suffering. I told him that I loved him. And my wonderful son just thanked me told me he loved me and that it was alright, and more importantly, that he was really glad I was okay. This painful experience in Oviedo, and my wonderful son Jake, taught me that true empathy is needed for humanity to fully understand each other’s pain and find the desire to help and heal.

 

My first lesson of the Camino.

 

Peace to you all,

Brian

The day is finally here…headed to Spain and the Camino!

I can’t believe the day is finally here…I am headed off to Spain to walk the Camino!

I say finally but time really has flown by. It has been the summer of a lifetime, with attending my daughter Natalie’s college graduation, traveling to see baseball games with my son Jake, helping my son Josh with his Eagle Scout project, talking with my oldest son Nick about work and life, and just spending wonderful time with my wife, Jill, the summer has been full and happy and tiring all at the same time. And now the trip I have longed for and planned for is finally here…I am actually going to walk the Camino de Santiago!

Despite weather forecasts that include quite a bit of rain, I have decided to stay with my plans to walk the mountainous Camino Primitivo, or the Original Way. Although I mentioned it in my first post, I think this route is outlined quite nicely in this article in Travel Magazine. The photos of the country I will be traversing look breathtaking…just Google ‘Camino Primitivo’ and look at images. Wow.

I have been talking about this journey for awhile now and have received many wonderful trip suggestions, kind thoughts, and offers to pray, and I am thankful for all of them. Just today, in a lovely note from my mother-in-law she said (among other things), “have a good trip, fruitful and memorable. Safe passage and good health. I wonder how you will change when you get back?” What a great question! I also wonder how I will be different when I get back. Will I perceive this life I am currently living in the same way, or will I see a different way of living that is simpler, gentler, kinder? I will have so much time to think about my life…from childhood to present, and wonder what is next. I have recently listened to a couple of podcasts on what the second half of life is all about and how to think about “the next mountain.” These podcasts have me in the perfect mindset to think about what’s next while on the Camino. Here are two that I thought were particularly relevant for me:

Father Wounds, Male Spirituality, and the Journey to the Second Half of Life

As Father Rohr states in his ‘Father Wounds’ podcast:

“Karl Jung, the Swiss psychologist, who said there are two major tasks of life. The first is, as he put it, where you create your container. I call that your identity, your persona, your self-image. Probably it amounts to your education, your family situation if you become a husband or a father, or whatever it is. But that’s only your delivery system.  And in non-wisdom cultures, and I’m afraid we are a non-wisdom culture, the task of the first half of life becomes the only task. It’s succeeding, climbing, naming oneself as successful. And most don’t know that there’s a second task.

“If the first half of life is building the container, the second half of life is finding the contents that the container was meant to hold. What is my education for? What is my self-image, my money, my reputation for? What was I born to do?

“The task of the first half of life is called your survival dance, and he calls the task of the second half of life your sacred dance. We both experience, after years of working with men, that a rather high percentage in a secular culture like ours never get to their sacred dance, because they just keep doing the task of the first half of life over and over and over again…”

This is exactly where I am in my life…exploring, discovering, learning about what the second half of life is for me, and to keep from just repeating the first task over and over again. This, I think, is the real purpose of my Camino.

Well, they are calling my name over the loudspeaker so it is time to go. The next time I write to you it will be from Madrid. Peace and love to you all.

Buen Camino,

Brian

Walking the Camino de Santiago

Hello Everyone!

It is August 13th and in a short 15 days, I will be leaving for Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago, or “The Way of Saint James,” the patron saint of Spain. The Way, as it is known, is a pilgrimage to visit the remains of St. James the Apostle in the medieval town of Santiago de Compostela. While there are *many* routes for pilgrims to take, below is the route I will be following — it’s called the Camino Primitivo or the Original Way:

Camino Primitivo Route Map

Many people find the path to Santiago de Compostela is a spiritual one, finding meaning in the solitude of the mountains, in the fellowship of other pilgrims, or just in the physical exertion of walking 15–16 miles per day for 15–35 days with a pack on their back. In my case, it is all three, with my personal spiritual growth at the core. Exploring new things and hopefully finding new eyes…

I promise to write more about the trip later as I need now on a quick 12-mile “practice” hike as part of my Camino training regimen…and it’s 91 degrees outside! 😦

Buen Camino!

Brian

Hiking in Rancho San Antonio