A 500 mile walk from St Jean Pied de Port, France in the French Pyrenees, across Northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, the destination for Pilgrims on all routes of El Camino. Then if you are an ocean person like myself, to walk another 50 miles to The Atlantic Ocean at Finisterre, Spain. This Journey is also known as The Way...
First, make the decision, which I did in October 2015. Try it on… Be with how it feels in the body, in the mind, in the Heart… In the Spirit. How did it feel to me? I can only say it felt to be exactly the correct choice. Once I decided, there was no hesitation.
Then? How do you prepare the Heart?
It is said that when walking El Camino, you carry in your pack what you fear. In other words… Literally carrying your fear on your back. To look at the contents of my pack… What do I fear? I would have liked my 17 pound pack to be under 15.
So what could I not let go of?
A few extra articles of clothes. I want to be prepared for cold. Yet, since I am beginning in The Pyrenees in early spring when storms can rise up quickly, perhaps this ‘fear’ should be called respect coupled with preparedness. I had a choice between a lighter rain poncho and a heavier full length rain jacket which covers me to mid-calf including my pack. In using it in rainy windy Portland, it felt a bit like walking in a tent. I ask myself what if I am in a sudden storm or lost with night approaching or… ? Could I ‘shelter in place’ and survive with what I have in my pack? Layers and protection from wet and cold. Yes.
I have 2 things that weigh almost nothing, that speak to my fear of getting sick. My vulnerable place is a progression that looks like this: Sinus, bronchitis, lungs. I am a great believer in Zycam. Zinc to take with the first tickle of something stirring. It seems to work for me. I also brought some amoxicillin, just in case a cold moves beyond. While my intent is to listen to my body and what it needs… I do not want to hear it say ‘stop for a week’!
The above could be called healthy fears. I do not fear Gaia/nature. She takes great care of me. Yet, The Earth is neutral. Her destructive force is as present as her nurturing force, I respect and understand them both.
And I understand the Gaia within… My own little ecosystem that I call ‘my body’. In my prior post ‘Preparing The Body’ I spoke of what I can influence through my choices… How I move my own physiology and what do I carry and wear. Then here, closer to the Heart, I speak of the vulnerabilities from the exterior. The variabilities inherent in the weather. Viruses and bacteria. So an extra layer of warmth, a big rain jacket, a couple medications are all easy responses to real yet smaller concerns.
It is interesting… Knowing what I fear is as informative as what I do not. You notice in my pack list, there is no ‘guide book’. I do not fear ‘getting lost’. One, I have confidence in my ability to figure it out as I go along (I have been doing so my entire life) and second, getting lost sometimes is an adventure in its self.
What then, are my deeper concerns of The Heart as I prepare to walk The Way? And as every life expression reflects the whole, what is my deepest wound/fear in general… The dance of my Shadow Self. What in my pack reflects my Shadow?
I am typing on it. My computer.
As I explored last year while ‘Dancing with The Triple Spiral’… My deepest wound/pain/fear is ‘not being seen’. Of not being valued for exactly Who-I-Am. Today. Now. Of being abandoned and thus disconnected.
And the most profound discovery of my Shadow Dance was at the spiraling center, where I found a mirror. There I more deeply felt and recognized that the most detrimental expression of not being seen, valued, cherished… Of feeling disconnected… Was by/with myself. Of abandoning my own Heart. Of abandoning my own Spirit.
Why does carrying my computer represent this Shadow? The exterior response is expressed in writing this blog and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. That is a lot of ‘being seen’! Although I know that 1000 ‘likes’ on a Facebook post will never touch or heal being lost within my own Heart & Spirit. Only I can integrate that self-inflicted wound.
Our Shadows contain our greatest wounds, deepest pain and most profound fear. Yet, inherent within our Shadow, is the insight and the pathway to integrate them. With integration they become our greatest allies, our clearest guides... A beautiful expression of Who-I-Am. As reflected in Joseph Campbell's words... 'Where you stumble, there lies your treasure...'
I have a book inside of me wanting to emerge. My background is much more in facilitating groups, so in other words, I tend to speak better than I write. I have discovered blogging is like ‘speaking’, a subtle yet powerful difference for me. I am preparing my Heart to walk The Way by saying ‘yes’ and releasing my hesitation about writing. Beyond and through my personal Journey, I know there will be the next expression of how I can serve others. It begins with this conversation, on this blog, tapping on this computer. Now.
A few months ago I was in a shimmery, powerful conversation with a friend who is a brilliant therapist. (Gratitude Melissa) Late at night, we were wandering down the rabbit hole of personal and shared reflection and she asked me a question. Which I answered from a deep place of no filters:
I have been lost from my own Heart and Spirit for quite a while. The last year I reached points of despair I had never quite been to before. Walking has been a powerful practice to be with the pain, insight, yearning, joy and reflection of my Heart. In Portland, I walk both side of the Willamette Riverfront, walking bridges as I weave my spiraling circles. Footsteps become miles, miles invite understanding, understanding weaves to integration.
I have 7 weeks to (only) walk, eat, write and sleep. Then repeat. On ‘The Way’, I am seeking the cadence of my stride… The clarity of my voice… The next expression of my service…The rhythm of my own precious HeartBeat.
What was my unfiltered answer to the question:
What do you most fear walking The Camino?
'That it won't work...'
And how will I know if 'it did work'?
I leave that to the Wisdom of Uncertainty...
Remember, I don't have a guide book...
I am figuring it out as I go along!
(Want a hint? It already is!)