It feels so long ago, the way that my skin smarted after a day in the Spanish sun, the joyous and multilingual conversation at a communal meal, the quiet of an albergue in the twilight. My memories of the peaks seem too green; those of the water at the end of the Earth, too blue. It’s been nearly one year since I left to walk my Camino.
In the year since then, the Camino has remained as dear to my heart as it was when I entered Santiago, eyes overflowing with brine, on the day I celebrated four Lyme-free months. I’ve looked back with fond memories of the mountains I climbed, people I met, and towns I sought shelter in.
But, as no hike since my Appalachian Trail thru-hike has, the Camino has left me at a loss for words. When asked about the pilgrimage, I find myself struggling to explain the details of the journey, let alone its personal significance to me.
What I do know is that it was a walk I would repeat in a heartbeat – but also one that I’m sure I could never quite replicate. In its gentle, patient way, the Camino invited me to step outside my comfort zone, to explore and contemplate and consider. It invited me to feel and appreciate and wonder. What I found was unique to myself in that place and time, and I imagine I’d find something different on attempting to return.
And, even while I search for a way to articulate the meaning I found and continue to find in my Camino, I see my quiet, respectful awe shared by others: fellow pilgrims, who, too, struggle to put a journey across a country, a journey back in time, a journey within themselves into words.