As the plane touches down, the familiar butterflies are back in my ribcage. A new adventure is starting!
I remain curious about the Camino. Why does it attract so many people, whether Christian or not? Will it be any different to other long-distance walks?
When Hazel returned from her first Camino, she told me that most pilgrims carry a stone that represents a burden to leave behind at the Cruz de Ferro, the Iron Cross. My fingers run over the smooth surface of the pebble that I have brought for that purpose. It isn’t yet clear to me what my burden is. The obvious one is grief for my mother, who died when she was just a few years older than I am now. But I suspect it might be something else that has yet to reveal itself. There are a couple of weeks to walk before we reach the cross, so hopefully, all will become clear in that time.
A couple of weeks later...
As we climb up through the heather-clad slopes, my mind turns back to the Iron Cross and the burden I will be leaving behind.
Every day since starting to walk, I have held my ‘burden’ and wondered what it represents. The cool, smooth pebble has revealed nothing. Do I want to release the burden of grief for my mother? This is the day we will reach the cross and I am still not sure.
Heading up to the cross, I hold my pebble again and turn it over in the palm of my hand. Nothing.
The cross is high in the mountains and the morning is crisp, but the exertion of the climb keeps me warm.
One by one, pilgrims clamber up the mound of stones at the base of the cross and add to it. Having walked with the others for a couple of weeks, I am fairly sure what their burdens are. As they walk up to the cross and drop or carefully place their stones, my heart goes out to them. I lose my composure a little bit more with every burden released.
And then, it is my turn. I follow the path that winds up the mound...
This blog is made up of excerpts from my book Walking the Camino. Read the book to find out what happens next!
What burden would you choose to leave behind on your Camino? Please let me know in the comments below.