It is said that there are three parts to walking the French Camino. The first part is the physical challenge; the second is mental/psychological, and the third is spiritual.
Truly the first part was physically demanding. I had muscles hurt that I didn’t even know I had, in addition to my thighs, my calves,and my butt. After three or four hours of walking my feet would begin to burn, and there were times when I couldn’t feel my feet. My shoulders and back ached from carrying my rucksack. Walking never became automatic, but after 7 or 8 days the aches and pains diminished greatly.
After about 10 days the mental part kicked in. I started to think about commitments and responsibilities back home. I got cranky, followed by anxiety and then sadness, like I was alone in the world. A heavyness engulfed me, and I became very self-conscious – a dark night of the soul – abandoned and hopeless. And then it lifted slowly as I focused only on the present and where my feet would lead me. I was aware of the shadows, but I kept them behind me.
I have yet to experence the spiritual, and I anticipate that as I get closer to Santiago.
Tomorrow, Thursday Oct 17, I climb to the highest point on the Camino at 1505 meters at Cruz de Ferro where I will place the stones I carried from home for those I love – at the foot of the Iron Cross.
Tonight I am staying at an Albergue sponsored by the English Confraturnity of Saint James. This stone building is connected to a Benedictine monestary. And tonight I will attend Vespers in a 13th century chapel.
The Albergue adjacent to the monestary.