Spirit of the Camino

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Spirit of the Camino

Book signing Open Book

The moment had finally arrived.  After 50 years of dreaming to be an author, here I was in the “Open Book” bookstore, gratefully and enthusiastically scribbling dedications to those who were purchasing my book…my book…that had a nice ring to it.  If only my mother were alive to see it.

But what had gotten us to this moment?  The answer lies with the 1200 year-old Jacobean route that we had traversed the previous spring—all 500 miles of it from the Pyrenees Mountains in France to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwestern Spain, where the remains of Saint James, the Apostle, are said to rest.  Call it the “Camino” or “The Way,” it is one of the most sacred Catholic pilgrimage routes in the world.

My wife, Aurora, and I had worked hard to get to the Camino, had endured bodily pain, fatigue, inclement weather, and a lone blister (Aurora’s) to accomplish the task….to walk its length and earn our Latin “Compostelas” (certificates).  Then came the hard work and discipline to write a book, re-write the book and re-write it yet again!

As family, friends and total strangers gathered round to celebrate, I stepped back for a moment in muted wonder, and saw the spirit of the Camino still at work, bringing people into our orbit, saw my beautiful twin daughters engaging with customers, my wife’s family interacting with our friends.   A friendship budding between Aurora’s 95-year-old mother and our 96-year-old church friend. New friendships all brought about by one road, one path thousands of miles away, across the ocean, on another continent.

A local author dropped by to introduce himself and discuss the book. We hit it off immediately—he was generous in sharing his author knowledge and experience and talked a little about his new book. We promised to stay in touch.

And then a man, roughly my age and height, approached and stuck out his hand, “Geoff Davies, I’m here because you responded to my post in Facebook.”

Geoffrey Davies had my full attention.  “I’m a Coordinator with the Southern California Chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino.

I detected an English accent. “Who’s got the accent?” I joked.

“Well you do,” he joked back. “Actually, I’m from northern England, the Manchester area.”

Within ten minutes Geoff had sold me on joining the group, “We have meetings, do local hikes, plan for our return to the Camino….in fact, I am off once more in about a week.  Come to one of our meetings, raffle off your book…it will provide some good publicity.”

I had to admit, I liked the idea.

And as the book signing ended and we packed up our belongings, I squeezed my wife’s hand for her 38 years of support and recalled the final sentence in my book, “If we learned anything, it was the Camino, like life, was a personal journey—a journey which was meant to reflect upon the other world, breathe in the air and wait in joyous expectation for what might be around the corner…”

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