The readers’ forum

Humbly walking the Camino


My daughter and I just finished the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (the Way of St. James). I went because she invited me. I’m glad she did.

The lore of the Camino describes three stages: physical, mental and spiritual. The physical for us meant walking more than 600 with a 23-pound backpack from Somport at 5,500 feet in the Pyrenees snowpack down valleys, up ridges and over plateaus to Santiago and beyond, Muxía and Fisterra on the coast.

The countryside was gorgeous, with panoramic views and bright spring colors. The local people offered adequate accommodations, good food and plentiful wine. But the many ascents were exhausting, and the descents were painful and treacherous because of the constant need to slow momentum while balancing backpacks on rocky and slippery terrain. The cold, wind, rain, heat and mud taught us to pay attention to our bodies, endure hardships, enjoy nature and gratefully accept the hospitality of the people.

The mental stage involved addressing the boredom that comes from long days on the trail. Pilgrims become part of a nonelectronic social network that operates up and down the Camino. They help one another, pass information and motivate each other with the greeting ¡buen camino! But eventually we had to address our inner demons instead of just talking while walking. We learned to let go, give up control over events, trust everything would turn out all right and just keep walking. Antonio Machado’s refrain became ours: “Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.” (Wayfarer, there is no way; you make the way by walking).

Spiritual experience depends on each pilgrim. An elderly Italian said his mother couldn’t do the Camino before she died so he was doing it for her. A friendly Englishman described the emotional catharsis he had on his first Camino as his reason for doing it a second time. Some sought natural highs, others expiation. The prophet Micah (6:8) tells us what the Lord wants: only to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God.

Like everyone, believers struggle daily with justice and love in their dealings with others. But they also are called to walk humbly with their God. The Camino provides plenty of opportunity for walking. Realizing what humility means is another matter.

The recent train wreck outside Santiago de Compostela on the eve of its patron St. James’ feast was a poignant reminder of human life’s fragility and unpredictability. For the victims and their families, walking humbly meant suffering and death. Despite not being pilgrims in the traditional sense, they are part of our Camino community. As fellow pilgrims, we welcome them and extend our condolences in their awful tragedy. As people of faith with the hope that comes from faith, we wish them ¡buen camino!

Edward Sunshine, Miami Shores

Read more Letters to the Editor stories from the Miami Herald

  • The readers’ forum

    Renewable energy is better than FPL’s nuclear power lines

    In his July 15 letters Bury FPL’s high-voltage transmission lines, former South Miami mayor Horace Feliu insists that the city of South Miami should pay the $18 million that FPL demands in order to underground the high-voltage transmission lines it proposes on U.S. 1 to support a pair of nuclear plants.

  • No double standard

    What is all this talk admonishing Israel about not killing civilians and being disproportionate in its response to Hamas?

  • Police transparency

    It is about time that the police begin taping interrogations — and that should be only the first step. There is no reason for jurors or anyone else to trust the police. Every time a cop gets busted, the blue wall descends and nothing happens. If police want to be respected again, then the state attorney’s office must prosecute cops who break the law and send them to prison; police departments must fire cops who abuse privileges; and police officers must show respect for the law and citizens. The best way to do that is to wear body cams and use dashboard and station cams.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category