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Where Your Thoughts Go, You Can Go!

“Be careful going in search of adventure…it’s ridiculously easy to find.”

William Least Heat-Moon

Have you ever heard or read about a place somewhere in the world then couldn’t get it out of your mind? In 2016 I remember doing just that when I first learned about the famous 500 mile trail that Apostle James walked called the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Months later I was hiking the last 70 miles of it to St James Cathedral. In 2022 I led two groups there, and here I am yet again leading another trip. What a joy it has been to travel with 14 other adventurer travelers. One of the best gifts of travel is the kindred spirits you meet along the way.

Our group bonded walking the trail rain or shine, up hills and down valleys, staying at beautiful accommodations every night, enjoying great food and wine, practicing gentle yoga, and stopping along the way to get our Camino “passport” stamped so we could get an official certification recognizing our feat. It brought tears to my eyes as we walked into the square at St. James Cathedral after seven days of hiking 10-12 miles each day. I was also filled with emotion and respect for the other pilgrims who had conquered all 500 miles.

I asked several in my group this week what inspired them to accept this 70 mile challenge on the Camino. Naga kept hearing about his wife’s experience two years before and wanted to accept the challenge himself. It was a joy seeing him embracing everything!  Marc said he is always drawn to active vacations and this really appealed to him.  Rhonda had a “spiritual” encounter in 2023 while meditating in one of the side rooms inside St. James Cathedral and wanted to return and also hike part of the trail. Tamie loved the idea of the challenge and applying the “don’t quit” attitude she tries to live by in general. It’s also a spiritual journey for her and roommate Deana: being open to what God wants to show them each day. Gerry was looking forward to contemplating the next phase of his life with a greater purpose.

As a true pilgrim, Carol shared her philosophy about her journey, “I have chosen to be a pilgrim all my life. To me, every moment is a pilgrimage calling me to learn, love, and experience God. Every step an opportunity to reflect, celebrate, let go, give thanks. Every adventure is holy and sacred. On this Camino, I carry the prayers of beloved friends, neighbors, family and strangers. Their prayers are my prayers. Some are written in sealed envelopes to be left at the Cathedral and more to be prayed while I traverse this holy trail. The way of the Camino, to me, is a piece de resistance in my pilgrimage journey.  Buen Camino for all of us."

When the group was asked what one word summed up their journey, we had a wide range of beautiful answers:  persistence, gratitude, humbled, fellowship, inspiring, authentic and more.

A huge thanks to Olga Keegan for leading the second PTYF Camino trip with another 12 adventure travelers just two days behind my group. She texted me as she was leaving Spain, “Heading home after one of the very best trips ever!!”

The lesson for today: let your mind dream, plan and go! In the words of Leonard Cohen, “The years are flying past and we all waste so much time wondering if we dare to do this or that. The thing is to leap, to try, to take a chance”. Here’s to leaping!

Hope to see you soon!

Sally Bassett

May 2024

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