Camino de Santiago: Why?

I’ve Got All The Reasons

One of the first and most common questions you are asked on the Camino is: “Why are you doing the Camino?” It’s a valid question, and important question, a good conversation starter and also super personal, and yet before I even knew the name of the questioner, I was often asked this question.

I was also asked this question by people back in the US before I went on this trip. Like I said, it’s valid and important, but it’s also a tough question to answer. Typically I told people I had three reasons to hike the Camino and then I would proceed to tell people what drove this completely out of shape man to hike almost 490 miles. I don’t hide things from people, so I was completely honest with them and said:

  1. Jump-start to losing weight – I’ve always struggled with weight. I’ve been larger than average most of my life and the one time I wasn’t I was struggling with my weight in the opposite way. My thought was that 5 weeks of hiking would help me establish a healthier lifestyle and force me to eat better and move more. If 5 weeks of hiking couldn’t do it, what could?
  2. Research for my job – As part of my job I lead short-term mission’s trips to places across Europe and a missionary friend of mine and I want to do one on the Camino where we would hike for a week and then serve for another. Throughout my time on the Camino I was learning about hostels, villages, and the needs of pilgrims. We want to bless those who are making the pilgrimage and seeing their needs first hand was vital for any potential future trip.
  3. Going deeper with God – I spent a lot of time with people, but when you are hiking for at least 6 hours everyday you also have a lot of time alone. I wanted to use that time to surrender to God and His plan. Each day would be a time for me to dive deeper into prayer.

Those were my reasons, but the reasons for each and every person were their own. I met so many people on the Camino who were seeking. Whether they were seeking answers, a connection, a place to grieve, or as one person said “inner peace,” almost everyone on that trail was seeking. We all wanted something by the end of our time.

Camino de Santiago: An Introduction

Many of you know that from May 1st through June 5th, I hiked the Camino de Santiago. The Camino, as it is generally known, is a pilgrimage to Santiago where the bones of St. James are held. Santiago, in fact, means St. James. (San Tiago) and it consistently ranks in the top 3 most frequented pilgrimages next to Vatican City and Jerusalem.

There are a bunch of different routes to Santiago that are all Caminos (which means “The Way”) including the Portuguese, English, North and the more frequently traversed Frances. I chose the Frances as the route that would lead me to Santiago. Most pilgrims who hike the Camino Frances hike from St. Jean Pied de Port in France and continue 786 km (488 miles) to Santiago.

Over the next who knows how many blog posts I am going to be discussing a bunch of different aspects of the Camino. Part of this is to help me process the whole experience, but another part is to invite you all deeper into the who, what, why, and how of that trip. I invite you to join me as I journey back to Spain.

Buen Camino!