Thursday, 23 December 2010
I started to doubt the entire enterprise. “Do you really want your life to go in this direction?” The question got larger and larger. Then like the star which appeared in the East or the yellow arrow on the tree when you think you are lost, a Camino sign appeared as if from nowhere…here is the story:
Some time ago an e mail popped into my inbox from Pietro. He explained that he was a pilgrim and had travelled the Camino Inglés using my Guide. Here is what he wrote:
“Dear Mr Walker,
I obtained your guide for the Il Camino Ingles via the Confraternity website and it was excellent.
I did Il Camino in September 2009 as part of my BA Photography degree at the University of Portsmouth.
I produced an A4 size book for one of my project and finished with a BA First Class with Honours in Photography.
Within some of my text I would have probably used similar wording from your guide and in my forward I acknowledge this, hopefully you do not mind?
Would love to talk to you in any event if you could e-mail me your telephone number I would then ring you.
Thank you for the guide, without it my pilgrimage would have been a lot harder.”
Then I was drawn to the Introduction and as I read the words I could not believe what I was seeing. Here is what it says:
“This book is a celebration of my Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela which started as my project for my BA (Hons) Photography. However it developed into a lifetime experience.
Do we sometimes receive a sign? I got a push in the right directions one morning whilst collecting the Church Hymn Books at Sunday Mass. I had racked my brains for a topic for the project for my degree with little inspiration. Suddenly there, inside the hymn book, I found overlooked copies of the previous two weeks’ Sunday Bulletin containing an article on “The Pilgrim Way to Santiago de Compostela.”
Being a photographer there was even a picture of the Sunday Bulletin in question. I stared at it. I was astonished.
To explain. Every week thousands of copies of the Sunday Bulletin are produced by Redemptorist Publications and sold to parishes all over the United Kingdom. They have stories and articles on one side and the local church prints their information on the other side. Some three years ago one of the priests in the parish where I play the organ in London was appointed the Director of Redemptorist Publications, a highly successful company. One day he said to me, “I’m looking for ideas for the summer series and I thought about “Pilgrimage”, why don’t you write a few articles for us?” “And,” he added, “We pay good money for all contributions.” So I produced a couple about Santiago and they asked for more which I supplied, the fees going to the Confraternity of St James. Then they asked for another entire series about pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Before my first pilgrimage the most I had ever written were business reports to Boards of Directors. This was much more enjoyable and from that Rebekah Scott suggested I start this blog.
It was so long ago I’d forgotten about it until I was looking at my own words reproduced in Pietro’s book. Pilgrims encouraging and inspiring other pilgrims. How could I have doubted that the Pilgrim World is for me and that I was going in the right direction?
So I have stopped writing down my finances over and over again hoping that they will look different every time I do it. I’m lucky I have enough to live on if I don’t buy a Ferrari. My plan is in place. The housing market remains depressed so I am going to lease my house. I am going to resign my remaining work responsibilities and just after Easter will walk the Camino Levante from Valencia. I do not intend to return to live permanently in the United Kingdom.
I have some ideas of my own. I’ve been talking with my friend in Gibraltar about a new circular pilgrimage route unconnected with Santiago in the South of the Peninsula. I’ve agreed with him that if some of his fellow Gibraltarians want to develop this route I’ll help them.
Who knows? One thing I am now certain of is that in the 7 or 8 weeks it will take me to reach Santiago from Valencia the steps beyond will be revealed. I’ll let you know.
So friends another year comes to a close. I am full of hope for the year which comes. I pray that all of you will have a peaceful Christmas and that 2011 brings you health, prosperity and more steps on the Way to Santiago.
I’m off to Sevilla for New Year – I’ll report to you when I return!