In Sando’s copy of ‘John Brierley – A Pilgrim’s Gude to the Camino de Santiago’ there is a quick 5-point reference page.
It lists the following points: Travel – a quick guide; Preparation – Outer; Language; Pilgrim Passport, Protocol & Prayer; Preparation – Inner.
Under travel it refers to when and how long. Life questions in themselves.
Both Sando and I grew up in the Cold War, and much has changed in the world within the scope of our lives. We would often joke about when ‘we were lads . . . ‘ knowing full well that when we did so those around us had only a vague notion of what we were referring to. Life moves on quickly.
I used to wonder in amazement, when I was a young boy, at my Great-Grandmother who had been born in 1901. Her life had begun when only birds could fly and encompassed men travelling to the moon.
Sando and I had grown up under the shadow of nuclear weapons and MAD (mutually assured destruction) and was now overshadowed by a virus pandemic. We definitely hadn’t considered that after he first collapsed.
The Camino journey is normally estimated at 33 days of walking and a couple extra added in for rest days when needed.
Sando had the blessing of six years extra than cautioned once he was diagnosed.
In sport and many outdoor adventures we were both mindful of the necessity of preparing well. Despite the advice to travel as light as possible, we both would carry ‘extra’ to help out others.
Travelling light is a concept underpinning many business and personal life coaching.
Jesus was probably the first recorded teacher sharing this message as the disciples were sent out into the surrounding countryside, being told to take nothing but their cloaks and sandals.
Medieval pilgrims were exhorted similarly, teaching them to seek nothing but dependence upon God.
Memories weigh nothing – expect perhaps the emotions they conjure up – so carry as many of those with you as you can.
Plenty of other things can be left behind, or dispensed with when you realise on the Way that they are unnecessary.
Friends often help you out spotting these things ahead of you doing so. Listen to them.
Language. Sando was well accomplished in this department and his mastery of Spanish a definite advantage in the Basque north of Spain.
Learn other languages and try and find ways to practice them.
The more people and cultures you come into contact with will broaden your horizons dramatically.
I am good at reading and listening but my speaking of other languages wouldn’t even get me onto the bottom of the grade chart.
If you are the same – get yourself a Sando!
Pilgrim Passport, Protocol and Prayer.
The credencial is a document which you carry with you and show at the various albergues along the Way. In return you will receive a stamp which is conformation in Santiago de Compestella that you have indeed walked el Camino.
Be grateful to your hosts and respect your fellow peregrinos. They will not always look or sound like you.
Maybe we should be given a credencial at birth and collect stamps as we go through our years? It might alter our sense of accomplishment and remind us of events easily forgotten.
Pray always. We always need to be reminded of this.
Preparation. Once you reach Santiago you show your credencial and receive your compostella – your certificate for completing the Way of St. James.
If you state your reason for walking as religious, you will receive a certificate written in Latin. If you state your reason for walking as personal, you receive a certificate in Spanish.
Note how you declare this at the end and not the beginning?
Your answer may have changed in the course of El Camino.
Remember everyone of us is on the ‘Way’ and the ‘Way’ changes us.
Despite our best efforts to ‘carry on’ as we always did, Sando and I both knew things had and would change.
We made adjustments without mentioning them.
I can’t say with any certainty, however, that I was prepared for the end as it came.