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!
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