Universal Humility

After completing 114 kilometers of the Camino de Santiago from Sarria to Santiago de Compostella, there are numerous insights I want to share.  Yet one that stands out is this concept of universal humility.  I have been part of numerous groups, retreats, learning and work experiences over the years throughout the world.  Regardless of the people, there always seems to be a sense of one upmanship.  One exemplifies their status through their brand of clothes they wear, accessories, the newest tech gadgets, who they have studied with, or over the top bragging of career accomplishments.  It may not be overt, perhaps it is subtle, but it is always there.  

       But when I walked the Camino with my tour group of 15, this did not exist.  Barriers were broken of status, age, country, and experiences.  It did not matter where we came from, what mattered was we showed up each day for the journey.  One has no choice but to be humbled every morning and evening, as we cared for our achy feet, blisters, back pains, or sore old wounds that re-appeared.  All struggled and were humbled by the process. 

       It’s hard to be full of oneself, when one is malodorous.  Together we walked, struggled, and smelled day after day.  Similar clothes were worn, in addition to our accessories of backpacks, walking sticks, and the conch shell symbolizing our status as pilgrims. This is what humbled me, or humbled us. We were choosing to walk 114 kilometers, in a day and age where everything is instantaneous. We were walking through rural landscapes, of pastures filled with cows, dirt roads, or tiny villages.  We were not travelling to be tourists or take in the luxuries of the Spanish lifestyle.  We were travelling for the sake of being a pilgrim, whether this was an adventurous bucket list item, spiritual vow, or as a way to mark transitions in our lives.  We were walking out questions in our lives, through the peaks and dips of unexpected hills, pain, joy, monotony, silence, noise, and comradery.   

       Through allowing oneself to be humble, it’s easy to remove the ego.  There’s no need for defenses, as everyone else is bowing down to the Camino.  As egos our dropped, authenticity can be revealed.  And this is one of the most precious gifts I found of the Camino. 

       I am aware as I write this, fellow peregrinos may be biased for people who choose to do the Camino with a tour group and only the last 100 kilometers.  There may be preconceived notions that this is not the full 500 mile trek, and we cheated for walking six full days is not the entire experience.  

Yet, I do want to share the group I walked with, our hearts were pure and ready for this pilgrimage.  For many of us it’s not something we did to check off the list, but an opening towards the pilgrim way that exists within.  I’m reminded of words of wisdom I heard that the arrival to Santiago, is only the beginning of the journey, not the end.

       May you continue to reflect, grow, and be present on your current journey.  And maybe one day, you may meet your soul and others on the camino. Buen Camino. 

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. John Wolanin
    Oct 24, 2021 @ 12:39:32

    So proud of my daughter for making this journey of faith. Putting aside all the luxuries and conveniences of this world to experience such humility . May God bless you always.




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