Doug & Amy, USA

“We wanted to jump in the ocean at ‘earth’s end’ to seek the power of the setting sun.”

“I work as a pastor and every five years I earn up to three months off for study leave or some other kind of learning experience. In my previous sabbatical, called ‘Holy Water: Source of Life,’ I was able to learn about the folklore and the religious history behind holy wells and springs here in Arizona on the Hopi (a Native American nation) reservation, as well as in Ireland and Scotland – where I even proposed to my wife Amy. Thus it was a tremendous learning and life experience overall, and for my next sabbatical I sought something that would rival it. Enter the Camino de Santiago.

With some research, recommendations of friends that had completed it, and the film ‘The Way,’ I decided it would be a great experience. Once Amy said she’d be interested as well, we resolved to trek from St. Jean Pied de Port all the way to the Atlantic Ocean – we were interested in the idea of walking the ancient pagan route, which followed the Milky Way to ‘Finisterre.’ We wanted to jump in the ocean at ‘earth’s end’ to seek the power of the setting sun much more than simply walking to Santiago. Amy and I were in pretty good shape from doing crossfit workouts before leaving, and we found that while we had some blisters along the way, nothing slowed us down too much.

I may be a pastor, but actually every time we had to fill out a form stating the reasons why were walking the Camino – spiritual, religious, cultural, sport – I checked off all four. To be frank, I’m not a devout believer that the bones of St. James are resting in Santiago. Sometimes I cynically wonder if it was a middle ages ploy to get more tourists and pilgrims to spend their hard-earned money; and, even worse, if it was an attempt to get the blood of pious Christians boiling against the Muslim ‘infidels.’ I like Santiago Peregrino (pilgrim), but the idea of Santiago ‘Matamoros’ (Moor Slayer) turns my stomach.

Given these thoughts, I was surprised by how moving and powerful arriving in Santiago was for me. The pilgrim’s Mass in the cathedral with people – Christian and non-Christian – from all over the world, was a moving sight. While I previously had little interest in Santiago itself, the sense of community I sensed there among diverse people who had shared the experience of walking the Camino together was potent for me.”

-Doug & Amy, USA

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