I have just returned from my second adventure of walking the Camino Nova Scotia. After the first one last July I had a profound sense that this is a small reflection of our greater pilgrimage through life on our journey towards God. But why do it again?! I am not quite sure of all the reasons, but the Camino beckoned and life and all its responsibilities made room for me to experience a second Camino.
How does one explain what it is like? It is a challenge, both physically and mentally. It caused me to face several of my fears and triumph over them…I did not die on the trail! Yes, that was one fear that I did not voice the first time until I arrived in Halifax! I did not “fail” whatever that means. I tend to be an introvert and find it hard to meet new people, but that turned out to be one of the best experiences of the Camino, getting to know the other pilgrims.
It is a special time of having no other responsibilities in front of you other than to get up, eat breakfast, make your lunch, pack up and walk. And as you walk you have time to ponder, time to pray, time to make new friendships with other pilgrims, time to enjoy the beauty of the Nova Scotia trail and shoreline, time to push yourself physically to do more than you thought you ever could.
At 64 years of age walking that last 31 kilometers into Halifax this year was an amazing accomplishment for me. And if you have experienced the fun of sleep overs as a kid, this is the adult version as each person finds their nest for the night in the Church hall or sanctuary. Only unlike the kids, we are early to bed and early to rise.
And there is the comfort of knowing that others are caring for you. There has been a tremendous amount of planning and preparation for this journey. After we leave they are packing up the van to carry our luggage to the next destination, preparing our dinners, supplying everything that is needed…all we have to do is ask, and yes, picking us up when the challenge is too much…sore backs, feet that have had enough and refuse to go further or just a sense that a rest is more important than doing that last 10 kilometers.
Personally I am in a place of discerning God’s call on my life and facing the temptation to want to hide or be like Jonah and go the opposite direction. I received encouraging confirmation from other pilgrims of the path that I think God wants me to go. I awoke at St. Luke’s Anglican Church on the morning of our 8th day where for some reason I had chosen to set up my bed opposite to my normal way of doing things to see the morning light shining through the Gethsemane window. Lord, not my will, but thine. Grant me grace to face the challenges that lie ahead.
Buen Camino and God Bless!
Shirley Kitchen lives in Milton, Ontario, and completed Camino NS twice, in 2014 and 2015.
Learn more about Camino NS here.