Written by: Kathie Houchens
Date: August 22, 2016

Travel book

Is there a journey on your bucket list? A place you long to go or have dreamed about seeing? A book called 1,000 Places To See Before You Die offers more than enough suggestions. There are, of course, too many places, not enough time (and there’s probably a T-shirt for that!) But if there were a single journey yet to be made, what would it be?

Intrigued by the Camino de Santiago de Compostela  I have imagined myself experiencing the sights, sounds and tastes of northern Spain. Friends have hiked it, biked it, and even ridden portions on horseback. I hang on their every word.

Map of northern SpainMovies, memoirs, and travel books bring visions of the scallop shell defined routes, the vast landscapes, the blistered feet, the local delicacies, and the friendships made.

I passed up an invitation to join a pilgrimage group this September. Such an undertaking would have required preparation, both physical and spiritual, that I have not done. But even if I never make it to Compostela in person, a virtual pilgrimage is possible.  Is there a destination in your dreams?  Would you make it a virtual adventure?  Join me, let’s get started.

  1. Choose a journey and map it. Note major sites and mileage.
  2. Choose a local route to walk and figure out its distance. Neighborhood sidewalks, a park, or even a labyrinth? (there are several in the Columbus area with easy access)
  3. Track your daily distance and mark it on a map of your distant journey. As you pass landmarks or geographical features use the internet or library resources to learn about them.
  4. Read part of a memoir to bring some insider description to your vicarious experience for example, Walk in A Relaxed Manner, Life Lessons from the Camino by Joyce Rupp.
  5. Keep a daily journal of your own experiences. Can you relate your “at home” journey to the one you read about?
  6. You can set the pace. Skip a day, if needed. But keep on keeping on until you have a sense of completion.

Finally some wisdom from Wendell Berry in The Unforeseen Wilderness: Kentucky’s Red River Gorge.  Berry advises, “And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.”
Terry Hershey in his book Sanctuary relates the story of a friend who very much wanted to walk the Camino in Spain, but was in the middle of cancer treatment and recovery when he decided to set out on his own version, a virtual pilgrimage in his own back yard, going the exact distance of the Camino, 500 miles. Each day he walked his walk, in open-hearted acceptance of his circumstances. Whether here or there, some days are harsh, some days are filled with miracles of beauty and peace, no two days are alike.
Lace up your boots yet? When will your pilgrimage begin? As you enjoy  your adventure, use the comment section to send us virtual “postcards.”

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