Life may be a cabaret, old chum, but for me it’s a Camino. So what’s a Camino? With a small “c” it’s simply a way, path, or road. It may even be the Spanish translation of the Daoist concept of the Tao. Dictionaries don’t help here, and there’s no one around I can ask. But with a capital “c” the word refers to the Pilgrimage Way of St. James the Apostle, which starts at various spots all over Europe and concludes in Northwestern Spain at the Cathedral of St. James (Santiago) in a city called Santiago de Campostela (St. James of the Starry Field) in the Province of Galicia.
Some history. Jesus’ brother, James, is said to have visited Spain in the first century C.E. and begun the process of that country’s Christianization. Whether or not this really happened, from about 800 C.E. pilgrims (peregrinos, in Spanish) began visiting “his” cathedral in the Spanish town named for him. Legend has it that the saint is actually buried behind the high altar, a boarded-up area worn down over the centuries by pilgrim kisses. In the summer of 2017, at ages 72 and 77, respectively, my wife, Cedar, and I joined 250,000 other peregrinos that year and added our own kisses after having walked 200 kilometers, or 120 miles, from a town called Villa Franca del Bierzo (French Village on the Bierzo River), on the border of Castille and Galicia. Along the way we were guided by periodic flechas amarillas, or yellow arrows.
Pilgrims are supposed to have an intention, that is, a wish for some kind of positive outcome, even a miraculous one, from their walk. Mine was, given my age, what the Creator would have me do with whatever active life I had left. On reaching the Cathedral for the Pilgrims’ Mass I got not one but two answers. First, a voice inside my head said, “It’s none of your business!” Then it relented and added, “You know those yellow arrows that mark the Pilgrimage way. We have put something similar inside every human being marking out their true path in life. Unfortunately, many cannot see them or know what they mean. And if they can, few are able to follow them. You have been blessed. You can both see and follow them. That’s why it would be incorrect to answer your question. You’ll do that for yourself.”
So it seems we are all on a sacred journey, a Camino, in this life. My prayer for you, dear reader, is that you will become a Pilgrim and have the eyes to see your Yellow Arrows as well as the will to follow them to your highest calling. Amen.