Finishing El Camino!

Well friends, I can officially cross the Camino de Santiago off my bucket list!

My mom and I had an amazing time.

And other than the fact that the woman sitting next to me on the airplane spilled red wine all over my front, I’d say it was a perfect trip.

You learn a lot about a person when you walk 80 miles together. Heck, you learn a lot about yourself when you walk 80 miles without technology. Especially when it’s raining for an entire day.

There were so many beautiful conversations my mom and I shared. There was one day when we both told each other our life stories. And I mean, we both already knew the other’s story because hey – we’ve lived it together. But there’s something about hearing it from their own mouth, in their own words that was really illuminating.

I am just continued to be in awe of this incredible woman who gave me life.

I really got a glimpse of her heart during that walk. I saw her strength – not only physically but spiritually, too. We prayed together. Laughed together. Cried together. Even at a time got angry together – and came to forgiveness together.

And I know that I had said that I was asking for a miracle, but you know – I think that God was working in ways yet unseen. Sometimes a miracle is stewing and we don’t even know it. So I’ll place my money on that.

The most challenging day for sure was the final day when my mom and I were assigned to walk with the 80 year old woman in our group. For 16 miles. All uphill. People in our group took turns walking with her. For all the other days, my mom and I would walk the miles by ourselves, and us both being runners, we would finish the walk in about 3.5 hours. Well, that last day…it took us a full eight hours.

It was honestly the most mentally exhausting thing I have ever experienced. Ever. It was a patience endurance test. And I came close to failing.

But as a result, the climactic moment of entering Santiago and taking the “0.0 km” famous photo was unfortunately nonexistent. And truthfully I was very disappointed that the pinnacle of our Camino came and went in that way.

But soon,I began to realize that God was using this opportunity to teach me that it’s not the destination, but rather the journey.

And I think that can be applied to life, not just the Camino.

Telling my life story that day, it brought up a lot of emotions. A lot of tears. A lot of regret. But as I recounted those seasons of pain – with my anorexia, or with being on bed rest for that year with ulcerative colitis, or with the sorority humiliation as president, and now with my mom’s stroke – the journey is what makes up our life. It is not always a breezy walk in the park. There are hard moments. There are joyful moments. That are moments that you don’t want to end. And moments that bring you to your knees. But when we get to the end of the road, those moments are what made the journey.

And you can choose to remember the good or choose to dwell on the negative.

That was the thing: recounting my life story to my mom, I was able to remember such beautiful moments that I had forgotten about. I tend to remember the big, negative, “boulders” in my past – but the little moments are beautiful, and deserve to be remembered.

Life is a journey. And every step along the way brings with it a lesson, and an opportunity to grow.

And as I was lighting a candle at the Cathedral of Saint James in Santiago, and praying for all of the intentions you entrusted with me, I was struck and humbled by the revelation that the truth is, we’re all on the journey together : The journey towards heaven. And just like my mom and I, sometimes you’ll be with another pilgrim only briefly for a short convo before continuing on your way, or for a long, and tedious uphill climb. But you’re going the same way. You’re going together. And every person is carrying their own personal challengers and difficulties along the journey. Those obstacles may look different or transpire in different ways than yours do, but we all will face them along the way. And it turns out sometimes we’re the helper, and sometimes we’re the ones being helped.

But I thank you not only for entrusting your hearts, and sharing with me your challenges to pray for, but for also keeping my mom and I in your prayers as we went along The Way.

I will always remember this Camino. The last day, over a beautiful dinner and a glass of wine, we talked about how special this trip was. And how, actually it was at such a unique time. I mean, I am single. And I don’t know how much longer I will be. But had I been in a serious relationship, or engaged, truthfully I doubt I could have just up and left for a week and a half by myself. This was such a special time for the two of us and I will cherish it forever.

Flying back to the states now, I’ve got tears streaming down my cheeks as I craft this, thinking about just the incredible gift I have been given in my mom. I am fully aware that not every girl has a chummy relationship with her mother. It can be an area of a lot of pain for some. So I do not take this blessing lightly.

Eighty miles is a long way. But it turns out that when you have a friend by your side, the journey can be some of the greatest times of your life.

And It turns out that it’s not the destination, but every step along the way that got us there that makes it worth it.

To see my final few videos from the Camino, check out my videos!

Caldas de Reis to Pedron

Pedron to Santiago

Santiago to Madrid!

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155 responses to “Finishing El Camino!”

  1. Truly beautiful–the pictures, but especially the special time spent with your mother and remembering of all the good parts of your life story. <3

  2. Congratulations Caralyn to you and your mother, for completing the Camino! Thank you for sharing the journey with us your readers and cheering squad. It is so true that God teaches us in the journey of life, not just in reaching the destination. Blessings of love and hugs to both of you! xoxo

  3. And the greatest friend you had with you on your way was Jesus, He walked it with you! What profound thoughts you ended your story with. I was blessed by your thoughts so thank you for sharing them. Your Mom looks more like your older sister in those photos. She really had looked after herself over the years to look like that. Amazing woman!

    • Amen to that! Oh wow Ian what a beautiful thought. Thanks so much 🙂 haha I’ll tell her! 🙂 you’ll make her day! Hugs and love xox

  4. Oh Miss Caralyn, thank you so much for your prayers, for sharing your journey, especially for sharing the last day. The cool thing about that day is that you’ve *lived* the slow journey. While I’m certain living that is not forgotten, the full return to health for you mom makes that living something of a distant memory. The 80 year old woman needed your strength just as your mom needed your strength as she recovered.
    You are a gift Miss Caralyn, a treasure, opening your very self to the One who loves you deeply. May the treasure of this journey continue to nourish your soul for a long time. <3

  5. Some thoughts – First, walking with an 80 year old and how much time it took, how challenging for someone with a quicker pace.

    You saw that production shot of me with the note from Priscilla Morrill. I was about 25. I choreographed and performed stage combat scenes with swords, knives, and bare handed. Now I’m 61, and my health isn’t even as good as it was a couple years ago. My first trip to Manhattan saw Julie and I walking all over with our Australian friends. Our last trip just a few months ago saw me struggling after just 7-8 miles the first day. I made it to the Met, but had to sit at the café, unable to see everything with Julie.

    Point is, I can remember being younger, feeling invincible. Walking with myself now can be a real chore! That woman you walked with was you once upon a time. You did a great thing to be with her. I know you made her feel a bit younger just keeping her company. Well done, you!

    So…no “roar of the crowd” so to speak at the end. No memorable picture or “I was there!” denouement. But that’s how God is, isn’t He? Recall how He appeared to Elijah: “And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire [e]a still small voice.”

    Maybe the journey itself, the stories with your mom, the forgiveness you both passed to each other is miracle enough. Not to diminish what God is capable of, but sometimes nothing bigger is needed. Maybe you just stepped out of a ride in a Ferrari and simply don’t know it yet.

    Never having been close to either of my parents, I think you had your miracle just by walking El Camino with your mom. Maybe you helped God with a miracle by praying for all of us and leaving that book there. Maybe your big finish was the deliciously salty tears on the plane ride home.

    With love and gratitude for your prayers and taking our prayers as part of your pilgrimage, I am yours…Jeff

    • Thanks Jeff! And thank you for sharing that. You’re right – God bless her for getting out there and doing it 🙂 it’s so true – that’s how He rolls 🙂 haha – a Ferrari I like that. Thanks Jeff – yeah I feel very blessed to have done this with her. Thank you for praying for us. Sending big hugs to you and Julie. Xox

  6. Awesome! And just because the walking is over don’t think God is finished with it. He’s liable to bring more out of this yet.
    So glad y’all had a great time! Thanks so much for sharing! It was a great pleasure to follow along on the trip! 🤗🤗🤗xoxo

    • Thank you Kenneth!!! You’re right – I think He’s only just beginning to teach. Thanks for praying along with us!! And for watching the videos! Haha Hugs and love xox

  7. it was great visiting Camino, through the eyes of you and all the beautiful pictures you took. Thanks for journey. And, again, though you’re on vacation – she take time to view and like my posts. Thank you, a super big thumbs up!

  8. Yes!!! We are all on this journey, we are walking each other home. This separateness we sometimes feel is an illusion, we are all One of the same- God’s creation. I’m glad you had such an enlightening experience. Wonderful!

  9. Kudos to you and your mom. Crossing an item off the bucket list is always a cause for celebration. As is life itself. The journey is often more satisfying than the destination when looked at with a perceptive eye. To understand that at such a young age is remarkable. You’ve greatness in you and a lifetime of happiness. Can’t wait to hear the blessings that will come your way.

  10. Its been a while since I have been able to get on here and read. It is so heart warming to hear and see the journey with your mother has come so far. I prayed for her recovery and I see God has been putting his hand into your lives. It looked like a wonderful trip of memories of new and old. Its good to be back and see and share with others on this journey we call life. Take care my friend.

    • Gosh thank you so much 🙂 must have been the altitude from the plane Hahahah jk Hugs and love xox

  11. Beautiful piece! It filled my heart and brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful gift to have this time with your mom. It sounds like you experienced the kind of sharing of emotion and life it takes most people forever to share in small pieces. Such a precious thing.

  12. You father did good by you. He showed you how to love your Father in Heaven and loved your mom in such a way that you crave the same love for yourself. Thank God for the blessing and gift you have in him as well.
    Thank you for taking my requests with you and laying them on the alter with so many others. God hears our prayers always but to know he heard those requests and praises from such a woman of God who’d opened herself to such a journey so she could not only grow spiritually but also carry the requests of friends and strangers, saints and sinners to such a holy place is just awesome!
    Safe travels for you and your mom and (soon) welcome home!

    • Thank you friend. I think you’re so right about that. God is good. And thanks for saying that! Hugs and love xox

  13. Congratulations for completing “El Camino de Santiago”! and I´m very happy that you realized that the prize is not to reach the cathedral, but the journey itself 🙂 Just saying because as a local, I see thousands of pilgrims every year, some understand the meaning of the camino, others don´t!
    Big hugs!

    • Thank you so much Chape! Yes! The journey 🙂 lucky you to live in such a beautiful place! Hugs and love xox

      • Yes, this is beautiful but, do you remember that rainy day? The weather is like that most of the year 😂 Just saying, if you come back, be sure to make it again in the summer 😁👌
        Big hugs and love!!

  14. Beautiful journey. Thank God for the protection and the joy that has filled your life. God bless you and your mothers health.

  15. This is so cool! I am a little jealous of this journey you took with your mother. And it was so awesome to hear how God taught you through this journey. This is a trip you will remember for the rest of your life!

    • Aw thanks so much! You should definitely add it to your bucket list! Hugs and love xox

  16. I have enjoyed your videos and posts about your pilgrimage. I loved seeing your mom walk under those grape vines!
    p.s., I did not know you followed Byron’s OMG blog until I saw your face on a post you had ‘Liked’ when I was perusing his older posts. I love his blog.

    • Thanks Laura! I appreciate your prayers and for joining me along the way 🙂 hehe Hugs and love xox

  17. You are truly blessed to have such a close relationship with your mother. Welcome home! And thanks for praying for all of us who sent you requests.

    • Thanks Barbara. You’re so right about that. I don’t take that blessing lightly! Hugs and love xox

  18. It sounds like you learned a lot on your trip. What a wonderful experience for the both of you! So glad you got to experience it together in such a special way. God Bless you in your next stage of life 🙂

    • thank you so much Sheree! yeah, it was such a special experience! Hugs and love xox

  19. Loved this post, especially: “the journey is what makes up our life. It is not always a breezy walk in the park. There are hard moments. There are joyful moments.” Sometimes, I look back and wish I change things. That whole hindsight is 20/20 thing! But the missteps truly serve to show God’s grace at work in my life and remind me to lean harder on Him. Blessings to you in all your travels!

    • thank you so much Kristen 🙂 that’s so true – they’re access points for His grace! Hugs and love xox

  20. Oh, my gosh…what a journey! I follow someone on IG who does something like this every year {perhaps the same walk}. I love following her journey and the things she discovers every year. Thank you so much for sharing your heart.

  21. Your trip was such a blessing for you both. We’re gathering our family from the corners of the globe soon for a vacation in Fiji. I hope our time together is as significant as the trip you had with your mom.

    • Thank you so much Dr. Rob! wow – have an amazing vacation! sounds like it will be incredible! Hugs and love xox

  22. Joy in the journey. A time with your mom that will outlive you both. I know you will hold the memory close to your heart. My favorite pic was of you with the prayer candles. Nice shot. God’s grip. – Alan

  23. Thank you for sharing this experience with us!! I truly need to do something like this with my mother… tell our story from our different perspectives talking heart to heart… Well, anyway, I’m glad you’ve had a good time in Spain and I hope you’ll come back to explore our country! 😉 (btw, the building next to the restaurant in Madrid is our Senate).

    • thank you so much Paola! oh the Senate building! awesome! so true 🙂 i definitely will! i want to do the other part of the camino next! haha Hugs and love xox

  24. Looks like an awesome trip! It reminded me of the 6-hour hike I took last year in the mountains of Columbia. I learned so much about myself during that hike! It was truly a journey. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Oh, what a beautiful post and a beautiful trip!! How lovely and divine!! Thank you so much for praying for my upcoming travels! I definitely feel God at work in my life. It’s these great relationships with loved ones that make everything to wondrous. Talking–really talking, away from the devices–can be so great. Blessings to you and your mom!! Yay!!

  26. Such a precious sight seeing you traveling with your mom. The pictures are great and the videos just brings it all together. It’s like I’m actually there with you and your mom. Enjoy all of life’s blessings Caralyn!

  27. Spent a lot of time in Spain as a young man. You’ve just made me miss the place all over again. Great journey, well shared and it sounds to me like you have well and truly made your destination.

  28. Thank you Caralyn for taking us along The Way with you (and your mom…and CAROL too!) In our home has hung the following quote written by author Ursula Le Guin (and has often been misattributed to Hemingway.) “It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” This quote is written in 12” letters across our family room wall as a reminder EVERY day is an important day toward the destination we are seeking, which for our family is the kingdom of Heaven. It appears you took some important steps in that direction in Spain. Hugs & Blessings again to you for sharing these steps with allllllll of us!

    • Thank you so much Dawn! Oh wow I love that quote. Thanks for sharing. What a beautiful truth to have in your home! Hugs and love xox

  29. In a journey, it isn’t how you start, but how you finish. It’s interesting you were assigned to be the companion to the 80 year old woman on your last day. That was no mistake. It reminded me of Hebrews 10:35-36, “Do not cast away your confidence which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” That day was an object lesson of perseverance knowing in the end you will reach the promise. So you don’t have to get moved by obstacles, delays or emotions. Thank God you endured to the end. You learned invaluable life lessons and was a tremendous blessing to that woman…probably more than you know. Congrats for finishing strong!

    • Amen – it’s how you finish. Thank you friend. I so appreciate that! Hugs and love xox

  30. Your journey was beautiful and so are you! You are so brave for writing about your internal struggles. I admire that! Thank you for following me as well…but I think by looking at your blog….you will inspire my writing skills!🤗

  31. Enjoyed reading about your journey with your mother. I am amazed at how beautiful and young she is. I guess just reading about her stroke and illness made me think she would look older and certainly not up to an eighty mile walk! I have benefited by your account of the times she has pointed you to the Lord as the answer and security for your life. You are lovely.

  32. I know a post is good, when I visit a Blog in passing and I’m compelled to read all a particular post, very carefully.
    It was ‘obviously’ a great read for me, I was touched by your open and honest account.
    Thanks for sharing and thinks for giving me some of your precious time by visiting and reading, round by mine.
    Much Love.

    • Aw thank you. Yeah it is really a special and beautiful thing 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  33. So many blessings! And yes, our life is a journey on the path toward Christ…being with Him fully in His Kingdom. I enjoyed following and virtually walking the Camino trail with you. Thank you for sharing your spiritual adventure with us. God bless.

    • oh wow that’s amazing. thank you friend 🙂 I think you should still do it! he’ll be with you every step of the way 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  34. WOW! What a beautiful journey and pictures to go with it as well! I enjoyed being apart of the trip through your lovely videos! Spain is so scenic and it looks very peaceful as well and the food looks very tasty as well 😀 not to mention of course aha!! I need to try that fig whenever I visit haha! 😛 God bless and I really admire the close knitted relationship with you and you mama <3 me and my mom share that bond as well ha! Blessings! 🙂 xx

  35. Loved reading about your journey on here! It’s amazes me how God can use little things to teach us valuable lessons. Thank you for sharing this with us!!

  36. What an amazing opportunity you had with your mom!! What a blessing that you are able to have that kind of relationship and have the chance to share your life stories. Makes me want to invite my mom to an adventure like that too!!

  37. Thank you for sharing your journey. My dad always emphasized the journey over the destination, and the older I get, the more I understand that to be true.
    I wish you the best and look forward to reading more of your shared journey. XO

  38. My daughter is headed to Spain in June, with a local young adults group (she and her BOYFRIEND 👍🏼), whom she met just 5 months ago through that same group!). Their group will follow just a small portion of the El Camino de Santiago, with a week to meander the last segment of the Way. I am so excited that she gets to do this. I used to dream about it myself, but my health now prevents me from doing stuff like this. It’s so great that you did this with your mom!

    • Oh wow that is so awesome! She’s going to have such an incredible experience. Will be keeping her and her group in my prayers! Hugs and love xox

  39. I know I’m a bit ridiculously late to read and comment on the but I’m sure so glad the trip was amazing and for you. I’ve been loved seeing your beautiful pictures and reading about your beautiful experiences

    • Thanks Jack – yeah it was an incredible experience! thanks for sharing in it with me! 🙂 hugs xo

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