Hi, my name is Tom Zarle, and I had the good fortune to walk the Camino three years ago. Prior to that I didn’t know much about it. I knew of it, but one day my daughter told me about a friend who had hiked the Camino, and how it had changed her life. So after that I was intrigued, I watched the movie The Way, I read story after story and book after book, about how millions of lives have been impacted by the Camino over the centuries, and how such life changing experiences persist even to this day. So a few months later I found myself in the French village of St. Jean Pied de Port where I took the first step of what would be for me a transformative life experience.
Celtic poet John O’Donohue writes that there is a difference between being a tourist or a pilgrim. A tourist sees and enjoys sites and returns home pretty much the same person, maybe with a broadened mind. But a pilgrim sets out with the expectation that the person who returns just might not be the same person as the one who set out. But one with new truths and insights about themselves. Over the days as I hiked, I began to sense I was not a tourist, but maybe I was becoming a pilgrim, and I sensed that perhaps this Camino I was on was not going to be completed just because and when I returned home.
As we entered into the plaza in Santiago in the footsteps of millions who had walked those same stones before us, it was as if each step I had taken was a metaphor for life, lessons to be learned and remembered, and arriving at a destination is not the only reward of a journey. It’s not the what, it’s really more about the why of the journey.
So arriving in Santiago, not as a tourist but as a pilgrim, I thought how helpful it would have been if there had been the opportunity to join with other pilgrims to process what we were experiencing. The Anglican pilgrim center would provide that important next step or stage in a person’s personal Camino.
Please consider your financial support and bring the Pilgrim Centre into reality, into being, as a setting for prayer, for worship, for dialogue and reflection with other pilgrims, before they return home and continue their own lifelong Caminos. Buen Camino.