Reflection of Parishioner Gary Miller on The Camino de Santiago in Spain
On May 26, 2012, with a heavy backpack, I began the Camino de Santiago [The Way of St. James] in St. Jean Pied de Port, France. This would be the first of 33 stages that I would be walking to get to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, some 500 miles away. There I was climbing the steep pathways up and over the Pyrenees into Spain, excited to walk this ancient pilgrimage, where at its end, tradition has it that the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela has the remains of the Apostle Saint James. Many pilgrims have made this walk dating back to the 10th Century. The pilgrim’s walk can be for many reasons, not just religious. My intention was for a spiritual renewal. As I told family and friends, I was not sure whether it was for myself or others that I felt the need to attempt this walk. I just knew I had to go.
On June 28, 2012, I successfully made it to Santiago de Compostela, and attended the pilgrim Mass, which was presided over by the Cardinal. It was a beautiful Mass, made memorable with the swinging of the giant incense burner (Botafumeiro), which requires the assistance of at least six or more attendants. If you would like to see photographs from this pilgrimage, the swinging of the Botafumeiro, or read about some of my experiences, you can find this material on the ABVM website.
One of the most difficult things for me to do was stripping away my reliance on myself, technology, and my presumption of necessity. I initially took way too much stuff, and my backpack was unbearably heavy. By the third day, I shipped many items home. However, in short order, I discovered that I could still do with a lot less, and on two more occasions, I ended up shipping more items home. I could not help thinking about the Apostles when they were sent out by the Lord:
“Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick.” (Matthew 10:7-15)
Rather than relying upon myself or my goods, I found myself turning to Jesus more frequently during the day, and relying more and more on the Holy Spirit to see me through. The experience gave me a deeper appreciation of what the Apostle’s must have felt when the Lord sent them on “their Way,” and just how much they had to have relied on Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
I have been back from Spain now for a little over a month, and have had been reflecting on the experiences of this amazing walk. First, and foremost, there are so many blessings to thank the Lord for! Not just on the pilgrimage but in my daily life. The following is taken from a Pilgrim’s prayer that I said every day on the pilgrimage. I continue to say it. I am grateful for the Lord showing his divine mercy through being : “a companion on my journey, a guide on my intersections, my strength during fatigue, my fortress in danger, my resource on my itinerary, the shadow in my heat, the light in my darkness, and the consolation during dejection.” I could give example after example of my experience on the Camino and in my daily life for the significance of each point itemized in this prayer, but my guess is that each one of you could do the same from your experience.
~ Gary Miller
Gary & Frances’ Links
- Gary’s Reflection on his pilgrimage
- Frances’ Reflection on her pilgrimage
- The Way of St. James Pilgrimage
- Tracking Gary and Frances on their journey
- Video of the giant incense burner (Botafumeiro) at the Pilgrim Mass Gary and Frances attended. June 30th, 2012
- Another video of the Botafumeiro in Santiago De Compostela, Spain
- Photo Album