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What is the Camino de Santiago and Why Am I Going?

The Camino de Santiago translates as “The Way of Saint James.” It is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where legend has it the remains of Jesus’ apostle Saint James the Elder lie. The Camino has existed as a Christian pilgrimage for well over 1,000 years, reaching its peak of popularity during the Middle Ages.


30-day Silent Retreat – June 2016

The medieval “peregrino” (or pilgrim) almost always undertook the arduous 500-mile journey for religious reasons. The modern peregrino’s reasons for walking span the range from religious through spiritual to historical and cultural to sport. Where the medieval peregrino was seeking forgiveness for sins or for Saint James’ assistance in a matter, I am walking it for more nebulous reasons. Which is for code for – I don’t exactly know why I’ve decided to do this crazy 500-mile journey by foot when I have never walked more than 5 miles at any given time in my life.

All I know is, “The Way” began calling me a few years ago, and as the saying among alumni goes, “The Camino provides” and I trust that includes
providing answers. A few months ago, I began writing my next book entitled, “QUESTions – Finding Answers on a Journey Within.” I’m committed to looking inside myself for these answers, and yet, I have found that going away actually helps create the space for me to hear the still, small voice speaking within my soul.

I understand that some may question my questioning. Like, why are you looking inside yourself for answers, just read your Bible. Or, be careful about trusting your feelings or following your heart, you know “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked who can know it.” (Jeremiah 17:9) But, here’s the thing. I know the scriptures and my head is filled with them and I am grateful for the wisdom, blessing and foundation they are in my life. I, also, want to experience God at the most cellular level of my body and I want to feel His love as deeply as I know it. And, for that, I need to get out of my head so much for awhile.

Machu Picchu - August 2016

Machu Picchu – August 2016

Earlier this summer, I went on a 30-day silent retreat. I spent countless hours simply sitting in the presence of God – without words. That was really hard for me. I love words. Reading is my strongest addiction. In most cases, I’m much more of a listener than a talker but boy-oh-boy do I have full-on conversations in my head. My thoughts are usually talking ninety miles an hour. I must confess that while I was “not talking” on my silent retreat, I cheated a little bit. I talked on paper. I ended up writing 92,000 words in my journal. Thankfully, there were still many leftover hours to just sit and be still. and know. and feel. and rest.

There are places on earth some refer to as “thin spaces.” Places where the distance between God as Spirit and us as humans feels a little less separate.  I recently returned from one of these purported sites, Machu Picchu. And, many report that the Camino is one long thin space. My hope is that as I walk for anywhere from 5-8 hours everyday without the normal daily distractions, my truest self, Christ-in-me, will have free rein to surface and reveal depths I typically don’t have time or space to pay attention to.

I’ll share some of these revelations here and who-knows-what-else. I have no idea but I’m curious. I will be walking into the unknown with my heart and soul and mind open. I like knowing you’ll be with me.



This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. Lisa,
    I watched The Way with Martin Sheen directed by Emilio Esteves a few years ago and became fascinated by the Camino. It is on my bucket list along with a trip to Prague and trip to Germany for genealogy research.
    I feel God calling me to be still as well and agree that the Camino feels like a great place to do that.

    I wish you many blessings and “still small voice” moments on your journey!

  2. Wow. I love how honest and open you are with us and with yourself. You truly inspire me. I also tend to have many long conversations in my head but never find any answers.

    I hope the journey brings all that you imagine. I’m slightly concerned that you’ve never walked more than 5 miles at once? Oh boy. I’m achy just thinking about it. Lol. But then I remember, you’re a survivor!! Thank you so much for sharing with us. 😊

  3. Wow! Sounds exciting. Will be interesting to see what insights you learn. I look forward to reading them. It must be the season for searching. I too have many questions and am searching for a deeper walk with Jesus. I can’t believe that searching and questioning is a bad thing. I believe it helps us grow. And there is always room for growth. 🙂 Keep walking!

  4. Hi Lisa,

    If you can, but two pairs of panty hose. Some people think if you put panty hose under your socks your feet will not slip as much. See if they have the knee high ones. And they come in handy if you need to filter some water, the reason for the second pair. They weight next to nothing.

    Good luck on your trip and safe travels.

  5. Hi Lisa,
    May God bless you with a beautiful pilgrimage. My husband and our 2 children, ages 14 and 16 then, and myself walked the Camino de Santiago this past summer. We hiked over 500 miles, starting in St. Jean Pied de Port, making it to Santiago, and then continued on to Finisterre and Muxia. If you can continue on, I highly recommend it, and it only took us another 4 days to walk to both ocean towns. It was the 2nd time completing the Camino de Santiago for my husband. I would put my backpack on tomorrow and do it again! It is incredible to only carry what you need on your back. We really don’t need much! I will be praying for you! Enjoy the beautiful scenery and beautiful people you meet along The Way!

  6. Power to you!!

    I don’t agree either that “just read the Bible” or pray, or whatever is enough. It’s been said we are spiritual beings having a human experience and that would seem we are certainly trapped within a myriad of limitations here that can be very frustrating to say the least.
    Hence, I think I “get” your reasons for doing this after reading your post here! My mind is that same way btw and while a blessing in some ways, it’s really aggravating in others!

    Pleased to be able to accompany you on your journey (and praying I can do something like it someday)! God bless you, Lisa.


  7. You are an inspiration to all of us who probably will never have the opportunity to do that walk. I too saw the the movie and I truly loved it! Way to go Lisa!

  8. I’m not a Christian or really “spiritual” in any way, but I am a firm believer in the value of seeking knowledge and always questioning what you think you already know.

    I think it’s great that you’re willing to march off into the great unknown and I hope you get whatever it is you’re seeking out of it. I’m glad that you seem to be listening to your own voice and not worrying so much about what other people think you should or shouldn’t do.

  9. I am excited to join you on this journey through your blog. I am also seeking answers. I know God will be with you on every step of this journey. Safe travels!

  10. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; you changed my life years ago when you sent me the book “Newborn”.
    For that gesture, I am so grateful. I will pray for you as you press in harder and rely on God for strength during this adventure. ❤️

  11. Hi Lisa

    You are an inspiration! I love that you are brave enough to admit you have questions for which you are seeking answers. I was able to exit a very high control religious group a few years back by doing something which was frowned upon…having questions. I’m looking so forward to reading your new book. May you have a rich and fulfilling experience on this new journey!!

  12. The 92,000 words would be me!! I could write and write and write and write some more! I’ve never published a book, but I swear there is one inside me. Your journeys sound beautiful. Love seeing your honesty and openness about Christ and His working in your life. Your words are an encouragement to me today. I really needed them. Thank you. Prayers for your upcoming travels next week and all along those 500 miles. Looking forward to the pictures and blog!!

    *Love & Blessings & Hugs*

  13. I recently read the words, “you don’t find the Camino, the Camino finds you.” I believe this to be true and can relate to what you said about “the Way” calling to you. I have one “why, God, why” question that I can’t seem to forget, ignore or let go of — and I’ve come to believe the answer is waiting for me somewhere along this path. Can’t quite explain it. Spain? Hiking? Never in MY plans. But one day, the feeling that this is what I need to do quietly slipped into my consciousness, much like an unexpected package I never ordered landing on my doorstep. And now, even though I’m not sure how or when, I somehow know that I will do this because I’m supposed to do this. In the meantime, I will happily follow your journey as you traverse the “thin spaces” along “the Way.” Wishing you you all the best. Buen Camino.

  14. Just discovered you’re adventure a few days ago. Gods timing is something else. I have been yearning for just such an outlet. My soul is restless and my heart is open. Thank you for sharing. It’s inspiring me to believe in the posibilities in front of me – if I will just get out of the way. Walk on my friend !

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