For people who walk long distances of a Camino…. possibly those that are that walk shorter distances alone… find themselves walking with others at a similar pace. Of those, you’ll get along with some more than others. The ones you get along with become your Camino Family.
What does a Camino Family do? They will look out for one another, share meals, tend to try to stay in the same alburgues, etc.
Since I walked with a very long time friend and we hadn’t caught up in a few years, we kinda stuck to ourselves. If there had been a Camino Family, here’s who mine would have been:
The first folks I met on the Camino was a family—husband, wife, and adult daughter. Given my daughter’s determination that our family, of the same composition, will walk the Camino in a few year, I was intrigued. Every year the family did a big adventure and the Camino was their 2019 adventure. We saw them a lot the first day we walked and then nothing until the last day. We must up on Monte Gozo.. Mountain of Joy.
It was this family that took the above photo. We reciprocated, exchanged pleasantries and went on our way. We didn’t see them again.
We met a young man that was taking the summer off his consulting job before heading to Law School. We never stayed in the same alburgue or walked together but we ended up stopping at the same places for food… a lot. So we shared several meals, coffees, and snack breaks. The last time we visited over a meal was in Santiago over tapas—a true delight.
One of the lessons I realized I needed to re-learned on the Camino was talking with folks just for the sake of talking—no agenda, no “sizing up” as to whether they could be a donor, no opening question of “what do you do for a living?”, Just acknowledging each other’s common humanity and that, for a season, we’re sharing a common journey. In church work, many times when we ask someone about their faith journey or ministry they tell us what committees they serve on. When we meet someone in our communities, do we acknowledge them as a fellow human being and beloved child of God before we objectify them as a potential church member? This isn’t an anti-evangelizing statement. Rather, its an acknowledgement that non-churched folk can smell inauthenticity and objectification a mile away. As my wife says, instead of trying to get people to like us, are we adding value to their lives?
The standing greeting on the Camino… to everyone is “Buen Camino”… “Good Way”. You say it to everyone you meet that is a fellow pilgrim and every merchant of any sort that serves you sends you forth with this blessing.
One of my take-always from the Camino is seeking to—in some way big or small—bless the lives of each person with whom I come in contact. And it also starts with recognizing we’re all fellow sojourner on the way.