It’s difficult to say when the idea of walking the Camino de Santiago first appeared on my horizon. I do recall that I first heard about the walk about ten years ago at a “Women at their Best” evening, where guest speaker Sue Kenny shared her personal experinence of walking the thousand year old pilgrimage route through Northern Spain. Her story was the spark that lit my imagination and inspired me to follow the well worn pathway of those who have walked before me.
Now my time to walk the Camino is fast approaching. Several years ago, I determined that the walk was definitely a “Bucket List” item (something I want to do before my time on earth expires). I flippantly decideded then that I would walk it the year I turn 50. And so it was that on my First Annual 49-and-holding Birthday Celebration, I publically announced to family and friends that this is the year I will walk the Camino, DV (Deo volente- Latin for God willing). When I made the annoncement, a voice from the crowd shouted, “Why?” Good question, difficult to answer. I think responded with something like, “Because I can.” What I meant to say is because I still can, and I don’t know how long I will have this opportunity. Having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis two years ago, I never quite know if, when or how the disease may show itself again. Thankfully, I haven’t been symptomatic since my diagnosis, though there was some permanent nerve damage after the last bout. I think I have put my MS on the shelf for a time. I recognize that it’s partially denial, but also a choice not to live my life defined by an illness, a label. And so, on April 18, 2017, I will fly to Paris and then make my way by train to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to begin my 900 km walk. However, the journey for me truly began the day I first heard the call of the Camino from a fellow pilgrim.