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Home Again Home Again

So much to catch you up on! Well, as you already know, Claus was waiting for me at the Cathedral in Santiago. In order to meet him on the day he could arrive, I had to hang back a day and let the rest of my friends walk the final 20K into Santiago without me. I walked halfway and then found a place to stay 10K out. That left me with the whole day to sit in the garden and twiddle my thumbs and count down the minutes until I got to see Claus again!

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We had also already talked about me going back to Copenhagen with him for a few days before returning home so I decided to hop in a cab and go to the mall near the airport. I was really not excited about spending another minute in these hiking clothes, plus it is cold in Copenhagen so I needed something warm to wear. And, can you believe I found this sweatshirt to buy? (Apparently, it is already written in the shirts…we need to go to Stockholm and Seol together next.)

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After making it through the longest night in history it was finally a reasonable time for me to go to bed. It felt like Christmas Eve and I was a kid excited to wake up and see Santa Claus! It felt like I woke up and looked at the clock every few minutes. The night took forever. Finally, I just gave up and got up and hit the road. I figured I could always stop just outside of Santiago and wait for the sun to rise. I walked for two hours in the dark but the stars were so bright and pervasive. At one point, I was simply marveling at them and thanking God for this whole experience and a shooting star streaked right in front of me. I felt God’s romantic heart and matchmaking grin in that moment. After stopping for coffee and getting a tiny bit lost, I made my way into Santiago and I could soon see the top of the cathedral. As I began to enter the city, I came upon other pilgrims I’ve walked with along the way. It was such a happy reunion. WE DID IT!

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I was walking down the narrow street when I finally saw him – and almost didn’t recognize him. He looked so cool and cute and he wasn’t wearing hiking clothes! I dropped my trekking poles and we ran toward each other and hugged for and eternity. It would have made a great scene in a movie. 🙂 Thankfully, my friend, Leanne, was having coffee nearby and recognized my blonde hair and took pictures.

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Without letting go of each other we walked to the Pilgrim’s office to get my compostela. This is the document that certifies my pilgrimage. All along the way, the peregrino collects stamps in our passport/credentials to verify that we have walked (at least, the last 100K) to receive this prized piece of paper. From there we went to the Pilgrim’s Mass. I have to admit, if felt somewhat sterile and cold and old to me. I think it would have been exciting to have attended on a day when they swing the ‘Botafumeiro, which is the famous giant thurible or censer in Santiago de Compostela cathedral, but we ended up leaving early. At that point, for me, the dead relics of Saint James and the lifeless Mass did not match the joy and aliveness in my heart.

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It really felt much more celebratory to meet my friends, the Zahnd’s, for drinks outside the Parador Hotel. It was so nice to talk about our Camino experiences and the ways it had changed us and in ways we realize we may not even know for months to come as we continue to process it and let it work on us. After they left, Claus and I stayed and watched the Sunset and ate tapas and drank wine and cuddled and occasionally pinched ourselves. I can’t believe it is over. I walked 500 miles. I met a wonderful man. I learned to follow the arrows – and my heart.

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We flew to Copenhagen early the next morning. It really did feel kinda weird and wonderful to be together in “real life.” We watched movies, played backgammon, went to an amusement park with his daughter, rode bikes in the countryside, walked in the forest, stood on the beach, ate fish and chips in the village, bought a puzzle, sat by the fire and talked and talked and talked – well, okay, that part was just like the Camino.

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It’s been a week today since I finished the Camino. I imagine I will be unpacking that pilgrimage for years to come. So many lessons. So many experiences. I looked through all of my pictures today on the flight home. Wow. What a privilege to walk through such stunning scenery everyday. It was interesting to look at the pictures and feel what I was feeling when I took them. There were definitely waves of many different emotions along the way. I took lots of notes and I will write more in the weeks ahead and, ultimately, in the book I will begin writing in January.

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In the meantime, if you feel the Camino calling you, may I encourage you to answer the call? I understand that it may feel like an impossible time and money commitment but as my friend Ney says, “it’s worth an ask.” You don’t have to walk the whole thing; many people do it in stages or, simply, the final 100 kilometers. Remember, nothing is impossible with God. I’m proof of that.

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Until next time,

Buen Camino

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. What a beautiful journey, both for you and all those who shared it through your writings. I was touched by your honesty and moved by your insights. While the paths we all take for answers may be different, it is so interesting and endearing that the questions we have are the same 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I loved being on this journey with you thank you!!!. You spoke right into my heart and soul. Looks like you had lovely time with Claus! Can’t wait to hear more bout your journey. One day I will go on the pilgrimage on the Camino!!! Have a wonderful time seeing and being with your family. Blessings Karla

  3. Lisa, glad that your home , Claus looks like a cool guy hope you guys can make it work you deserve it. So, you walk 500 miles, all I can say is WOW! Hope to read more you are a special lady. Stay safe 🇺🇸

  4. A beautiful end to a very special journey – but of course, it is really NOT the end. It is the beginning of a whole new pilgrimage. Keep unpacking the lessons. <3 For those who think they do not have time or money for this adventure, I will share this. Once one commits with a whole heart, the way and means unfolds. It may take some time and your may have to slay a few fearsome dragons (fear itself daunts too many people and keeps them from getting outside their comfort zone and the "I can'ts..") I did my 40 days on the cheap (6E donativo dives and 8E pilgrim meals, mostly lentils!) – Ginn, In Sunny SC

  5. Waiting a week to read this seemed an eternity. I’m so happy that you are home. It’s truly been an honor to walk along with you. Thank you, thank you!! I will be praying that your transition back into “real life” goes smoothly.

  6. I’m glad you had a wonderful journey. This post reminds me a little of how I feel when I come back from the Camino. 🙂

    I’m looking forward to reading your book!

    Peace and blessings

  7. Glad you made it home safely and that you enjoyed your bonus time with Claus. Thanks for sharing your journey. If y’all need a song, it should obviously be “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers 😉

  8. Glad you had a wonderful time on Camino and in Copenhagen. Now for your joyful reunion with your family! Blessings for you all!

  9. Lisa,

    What a wonderful journey. God really answered your prayers, your heart, and mind. Congratulations I knew you could do it. Now to not fear and just enjoy the time you have with wonderful people and you are a wonderful and kind person that walked 500 K to walk on God’s earth. I hope you know that you are special and important. I can’t wait to read your book and know you have a Happy Ending as they say in movies. I hope you will keep blogging. So what is your next journey?

    1. Thank you so much for this beautiful comment. My next journey? Actually, there are three big ones – focusing on my coaching practice, writing my book and enjoying my new relationship with Claus!

  10. Thank you for sharing your awe-inspiring journey. What was the most difficult and triumphant experience in your completion of Camino?

  11. Lisa, that picture of you guys on the bikes is SO great. You look so incredibly, genuinely happy and I couldn’t be happier for you. The Camino has definitely been calling me for a couple of years and while I already knew I wanted to answer the call, journeying with you has made me want to answer the call even sooner! I think I mentioned that I’m hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro next year, so the Camino will have to wait until after that, but I can’t wait to walk the Camino and learn many new (and I’m sure revisit some old) life lessons. Thank you for taking us with you on this trek. What a privilege to be able to tag along. Buen Camino on your journey of writing your next book. I so look forward to reading it. Blessings.

  12. Thank you soooo much for your blog. It felt like a true privilege to be able to follow your journey. I’m sure your readers are almost as sad as you are that its ended! I will definitely buy your book. Of course I am interested in your relationship with Claus and am curious what the future holds for you two!

  13. Lisa,
    I’ve been following along from the start and have to say, I’m still amazed. Just incredible from start to finish. If I didn’t know it was true, I’d probably never believe it. Perhaps you should pitch your story to Hallmark?
    Thank you again for sharing it with us. I’m so happy that your journey was so rewarding. And hope you know how much you’ve touched and inspired us all. Enjoy home!! You know what they say… There’s no place like it. 🙂

  14. I think that shirt you saw was Prophetic and I saw a lot more adventuring in your future before Claus even manifested in your life.
    Youve waited a long time for a lot of things and they are just beginning.

    Ecc 3:11

  15. So happy for you and your completion of your Camino. Well done! I thoroughly enjoyed following you each day and learning from you and your experiences. I just finished a 41 mile trek 3 day trek over one of the hardest trails (Santa Ines mountains). The trekking poles saved me thanks to you writing about them, I went out and bought a set. Whew. Especially the decent to Solvang. Once again, thought of you as I nibbled on my danish there. When you start missing Claus, go to Solvang….better yet, walk there on Refugio Road from the beach!

  16. Having heard you speak in person and having read a good bit of your writing, I’ve found you to be quite thoughtful and sincere in your pursuit of the truth and charitable in your interactions with others. Your blog reflections on the Camino show a tolerance for many stripes of persons (except perhaps snorers!) and beliefs, so I was surprised to find such a strong anti-Catholic sentiment in your writing. It was especially ironic that the one religion portrayed negatively as you walked an ancient Catholic pilgrimage route towards the relics of a saint in a Catholic church was Catholicism itself. I wonder if you would have been similarly dismissive of Judaism in Jerusalem or Islam in Mecca. But anti-Catholic prejudice remains acceptable in polite society. I don’t expect to change your mind about your impressions of the Catholic Church; I am truly sorry that your experiences seem to be negative. I just want to offer a gentle reminder that Catholics are out there reading your blog, and it is deeply offensive to have our saints and Mass treated with so little respect, especially coming from someone who has a public platform to influence others, especially as seemingly every other strain of thought and religion is treated with tolerance and open-mindedness. Catholics need not be emotionally stirred and enthusiastically inspired by every Mass we attend, but to call even the most seemingly boring Mass “lifeless” neglects the sanctity and reality of the Eucharist, which is Christ himself and the source and summit of our Christian life. I suspect the Catholic Church is a bit outside your comfort zone and experience, but the negative portrayal of nearly all things Catholic is jarring in contrast with the generally thoughtful and charitable approach you take in your writing. Thanks for your consideration.

    1. Elizabeth, thank you so much for taking the time to post this comment. I’m sorry my references in my blog gave such a lopsided view of my feelings about catholicism but I can see how that comes across. In reality, I spent 30 days on a silent retreat at a Jesuit Retreat Center this summer and went to Mass every day and loved it. The most influential author of my faith is Fr. Richard Rohr. I have a great deal of respect and gratitude for the Catholic church. Just like as in Protestant churches, there are some that resonate with each of us and some that just seem to land flat. I was not making a blanket statement about Catholic churches or services, in general. I was simply referring to the contrast of the life I was feeling inside and what I experienced as a duller experience in this particular incident. I can imagine there were many, many in that very same service who were deeply touched and enlivened by the service and the beauty of it all. Different things touch us all in different ways. I have been deeply touched many times by the Catholic church and I’m sure I will continue to be blessed by this beautiful and rich heritage. Please forgive any slight that was unintended and is not a reflection of how I feel in the integrity of my heart.

  17. Congrats!!!!! I spent a snowy weekend enjoying your Camino Pilgrimage. It is amazing what you learn about yourself when your “self” is stripped away to one focus. Thank you for sharing. Makes me want to have an answer to a very simple question someone asked me years ago … “What are you looking forward to?” I need to continue my search for that answer. Thank for the reminder. 🙂

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