~On the Camino de Santiago Portuguese Way~
With Junia Imel
I first heard about the Camino de Santiago in the summer of 2002
when I was walking the Black Forest in Germany. On July 25th, my
friends and I came across a pilgrimage-in-progress on the trail. During
our walk, we had not seen but 1-2 people each day, so we were intrigued
when we came across 100s of people in a space of a mile.
we opened a gate to pass through a farmers land, the family was
preparing for a huge picnic. We politely tiptoed through their property
silently wishing to be invited since the smells were tantalizing! On
the other side of their property, we sat down to enjoy our sack lunch
and watch the people gather for the party. So fascinated, we stopped a
group coming towards us to inquire. That was a life changing moment for
Little did we know that July 25th is St James Day and that
we were on part of the original Camino - the Way of St James - the route
he followed as he crossed Europe from Jerusalem to Santiago, Spain. On
this day, pilgrims were walking to the small Chapel of St James located
deep in the forest in order to pay homage to this patron saint. And as
in ancient times, the feast was a celebration for the pilgrims' return.
One of the gentlemen in the group spoke a bit of English
and explained to us the meaning of this journey and enthusiastically
shared that his friend, the man with the scallop shell around his neck,
actually had walked the entire Camino across France and Spain earning
his Compostela. You could tell he was very proud of his friend's
accomplishment. As they joined the celebration, we continued on our way
with humbleness and purpose, now very aware of the scallop shells
marking our path.
This memory subtly lived in my subconscious mind until finally it
got so loud that I could not refuse the call. I had only been called
this way one other time in my life when I was called to Peru in 2006-07.
I learned at that time, not to question WHY, just go. This is my Soul
calling and it does not understand all the human excuses and fears for
So, in 2014 just a couple of days before St James Day twelve
years later, I walked into Santiago de Compostela completing my first
(but not last) Camino de Santiago. There are no words to describe
the feelings and emotions that overwhelmed me that day. It was a
journey home! To fully walk into my heart and soul and allowing my
authentic self to shine!
I learned early on the trail that people walk for various
reasons. Even though the Camino is known for its religious roots, it is
not only a religious pilgrimage, but a unique pilgrimage for each soul.
In fact, as one wise person noted: “Somewhere between the start
of the trail and the end is the mystery why we choose to walk. To find
the mystery, you must walk the trail.” (Unknown) As we all
know,"the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step" (Lao
tsu) with "the longest journey ... the journey inward." (Dag
Are you willing to walk through your fears
and join this journey to meet your soul?
Walk with us September