When I was a child my dad would always disappear for a week once a year. My mom would vaguely say he was on a retreat, but I never really inquired much about it until I got older. In my 20’s I finally got around to asking my Dad where he went on his mysterious retreat once a year, and he told me he went to some Jesuit retreat center in Louisiana and didn’t talk. He said he just read, prayed, ate and walked around like a typical retreat, but everything was in silence and it was the best week of his life. At the time I was stunned, because my dad was super busy, running his own business and commuting over 2 hours a day to work. To take a week off and not speak seemed strange.
But then I grew up and got busy! After having kids, working full-time and taking care of a house did I finally understand the stress and pressure of everyday life. And with each passing year the abundance of stuff, noise and sense of rushing just seemed to get worse.
And that’s when I found the Camino. Just like my father, I longed for silence, and escape, a way out from waking up with 35 e-mails and having to deal with that. A way out from instant notifications on my phone or “breaking news” on the TV.
I longed to find out what was important in life and reconnect with my spirit and nature. And the Camino gave me that escape and the answer I was looking for.
At first it was just a fun adventure to check off my bucket list, but after walking a few days I began to realize that I was happy, this was fun, and for the first time in a long time I wasn’t stressed or worried. After my first Camino I knew I had to return, which is a typical sentiment among Camino walkers. As soon as we finish our first, we’re already planning the next.
When I read this article about how more and more people are looking for ways to disconnect, I understood. With all our new technologies and conveniences, often we’re too busy to sit still for a moment or take a break. Even when we lay our heads down for the night our thoughts are overpowering and nonstop.
When we live at this fast pace, always running and thinking and moving, we lose the essential stillness and peace of what’s inside.
When I say the Camino is life-changing, I mean it. It’s hard to explain, because it is “just walking” but it’s more than that. It’s hope, and peace and silence. I hope you find your Camino friends.