I woke early in Azpeitia, Spain. It was the third day of my Camino, and I was spent, mentally unprepared, and some 500 miles short of a ticket home! Thoughts flooded my head as I stared at the blank ceiling and curled my stiff toes with pain.
“How am I going to do this? Wait, why am I doing this? I don’t think I can even make it!”
Arresting the panic that threatened to spread like wild fire, I steeled my will with the old, “One day at a time, Patrick…” and then took a shower for pure enjoyment.
We found croissants and a little coffee machine that spurted out hot beverages in the dining hall. I ordered a cappuccino, loaded my croissant with too much butter, and put a few pieces of fruit on my plate for good measure. Most of the guys were hunched over their fare, silently stuffing their faces like they were on a silent retreat.
The leader was the only one talking, selling a piece on staying together and doing it for the good of the group, but I don’t think any of us were actually buying it. We were all in survival mode, and at the end of the day it was simply another 40K that separated us from food and shelter. From here on things only proved to get worse.
Blisters, pulled tendons, asthma, the common cold, allergies, strange rashes, and the runs beleaguered our troop, dragging morale to an all-time low. On top of that, there were real disagreements and heated words about how things were organized, what it meant to be a leader, and not surprisingly how people were walking.
How then, did it turn out peachy in the end? How is it possible that these guys who were at first perfect strangers, became like brothers, brothers for whom I would gladly die? How is it, that given the first few weeks of utter agony, I would be willing to do it all again?
You can’t walk 500 miles without it changing you.
If you don’t believe me, give it a try; but don’t forget to take God along.
Amongst the pilgrims it became a saying that the Camino is a metaphor for life; but the Camino is more than a metaphor. The Camino is life. In the space of a month our relationships grew stronger for the difficulty, our bodies adapted to accommodate the harrowing toil, our prayer lives were bolstered with the routine of daily Mass and constant rosaries, and our purpose was discovered in the pilgrim’s progress: we had a goal, we were Santiago bound, and it changed us.
Accompanying us along our way was a delightful crew of cinematographers, from Infinito Mas Uno, who documented our walk from San Sebastian to Santiago along the Northern Route. The inspiration for the documentary was simple and pure: to remember the Camino de Santiago as a pilgrimage of prayer in the face of the wanderlust identity it has become for many.
The reception of the documentary was met with great accolade, rising to the top of the charts among Spanish documentaries in 2016, and gathering some considerable appeal in the Americas this past year. You can now catch a glimpse of our way on Netflix in 196 countries, under the title Footprint’s: The Path of Your Life, and who knows perhaps you may feel the tug at your heart to snug a pack on your back, head into the wild, and spend a month in conversation with Our Lord.
“Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.”
Head to Footprints website for more information: www.footprintsdocumentary.com