In the winter of 2011 during my drive into work, I stumbled upon an interview on CBC radio. The radio show was called “The Next Chapter.” Each week authors were invited on the show to talk about themselves and discuss their new book.
The guest for that week was Julie Kirkpatrick, and she was talking about her newly published book, ‘The Camino Letters,’ which was about her experiences during her visit to a famous pilgrimage trail in Spain.
This author was charming and so was the premise of the book. I spent my breaks and lunch googling whatever I could find on this mysterious Spanish pilgrimage.
The very next day, I went to the local bookstore and bought myself a copy.
In this book, the author describes what happened when she went to walk Spain’s Camino de Santiago with her daughter. Walking this pilgrimage took a gruelling twenty-six days.
As she prepared for this journey, she wrote to 26 of her friends, one friend for each of the 26 days she would be on the trail. She then asked them to send her a task, homework if you will, that she is to perform, one per day for each day she is walking the Camino. They were simple duties: recite a verse, notice something new.
In her book, ‘The Camino Letters, she then begins to write of her transformation during her journey.
The book is beautifully written, and I enjoyed reading it. I didn’t want it to end.
Imagine my pleasant surprise two years later while on a day trip to Tivoli Gardens in Italy, I struck up a conversation with a young lady who during the course of our conversations related to me that she too had been on this same pilgrimage in Spain. Her name was Donna, and she told me that she lives in New Zealand.
She shared with me how she took a pebble from a river in her home town, and replanted it in a bay at the completion of her journey through the caminos.
She was very popular among her fellow pilgrims as she was able to use her skills as a physiotherapist by massaging their sore and tired feet.
I learned a little more about the Camino de Santiago that day as I listened to Donna’s eye witness accounts of the roads she walked, the conversations she had, the kindness that was shown her.
I just love it when that happens.