It was 7 am when all pilgrims were shooed out the door of the auberge and it was thus that I began my journey to Santiago de Compostelo.
I have reached the first stop refuge auberge Orisson which is 8 kms from St. Jean Pied de Port and all uphill. There was some trail along the road and then up thru rural farmland with sheep grazing and lush green hillsides. It drizzled along the way so some of the going was slippery. And, now as I sit here in the cafe, watching the pilgrims come in for refreshment and to relax for a bit, the sun has broken through the low cloud cover.
I began this journey on August 31 a month that features another blue moon. Not, unlike January 1, 2010 when I used the light of another blue moon to climb Mt. Sinai in Egypt. If I had known what those months ahead held for me, I can only hope this journey ahead will be met with the same courage, faith, grace and tenacity.
It was during this visit to Egypt that I heard of this walk called the El Camino. I was visiting my daughter JoAnna and dinner guests one evening were Paul and Suzanne. Paul is a Canadian and Suzanne from Sweden. Paul had started walking the El Camino and Suzanne had joined him in Leon and upon completion of the hike, they were married in Santiago. That was the first planting of the idea. While in Egypt, I read Paulo Coelho’s book, The Pilgrimage, and, while fiction, this further nurtured the germination of the idea.
Upon returning home, the coincidences continued to happen. JoAnna mentioned that a friend and her mother were planning to walk in the Fall of 2010. Later, I went to a travelogue of a member of my hiking club who had completed the El Camino.
The journey since January 2010 has been been difficult, filled with family and personal circumstances that maybe, just maybe, that moonlit journey up Mt. Siaini was the inspiration needed to meet each crisis.
I am approaching my 61st birthday and, now officially in the winter of my life, am seeking how to approach this stage with grace, dignity and joy.