Deo volente, I will do the Camino de Santiago, or at least as much of it as an aging body will take, in the fall of 2010.
In preparation I have been reading accounts of other pelegrinos, some likely, like Father Kevin Codd , the rector of the American seminary at Louvain (To the Field of Stars: A Pilgrim’s Journey to Santiago de Compostela), some understandable, likes Robert Ward, an unbeliever but a travel writer (All the Good Pilgrims), and some highly unlikely, like HaPe Kerkeling, a gay German comedian (I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago).
What impresses all walkers on the Camino are the simple acts of kindness that they encounter from fellow pilgrims and from locals: the strangers who will tend to their bleeding blisters, the opticians who will rush to replace broken glasses, the women by the wayside who offer fruit and water and ask only for a prayer when the pilgrim reaches Santiago. And then there are the coincidences that impress even the unbelievers. And there are also the fakes, the con artists, the doubters, the seekers, the New Agers, the wanderers, the vagrants. It is very like the Middle Ages.
As the Latin poem on the Refugio at Roncesvalles said:
The door is open to all, to sick and healthy, not only to Catholics but also to pagans, Jews, heretics, and vagabonds.
And it will, I hope, be open to me.