A pilgrimage is a transformative journey to a sacred place where God has made himself known to the world. Christians have been engaging in pilgrimage since the early church, and the Camino is one of the most well-known pilgrimage sites in the world.
Thousands of pilgrims travel one of the many “ways” every year, and no one’s experience and reason for walking is the same. While it’s a very physical journey that requires physical preparation, you should also prepare spiritually for the Camino as well. There is no right or wrong way of walking the camino; but examining your thoughts and reasons for going beforehand is a way you can enhance your overall spiritual experience on the camino.
Here are some tips on how to prepare yourself spiritually for the Camino de Santiago:
What am I seeking?
This is an important question to ask yourself. Saying “yes” to a pilgrimage is an act of faith; a leap into the unknown, of sorts. Why did you decide to say yes to this pilgrimage? Is there some personal desire to complete the Camino? Are you doing it to draw closer to God? Do you have a desire to go beyond? To be grounded? To find meaning in your life? Meditate on why you decided to take this leap of faith and and what you are hoping to get from this pilgrimage.
Start journaling before the trip
Journaling your thoughts on the above questions before the trip will help guide your thoughts through the entirety of the Camino. Take this journal with you so you can write and reflect on these things as you are walking, and see how your viewpoints change from the beginning to the end of the pilgrimage.
Learn about the Apostle, St. James
No matter which route you take, all ways lead to the Cathedral of St. James where the saint is buried. Legend says that the route we are taking is the same path that one of the 12 Apostles, St. James, walked to spread the Gospel. By saying “yes” to this pilgrimage you are being called to follow the way of St. James; before going, learn more about his life and his message as he spread the Gospel through modern day Spain and Portugal.
It is easy to get lost in other preparations for this pilgrimage. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in thinking about packing and physical preparation that we lose sight of the spiritual preparation that is needed for the camino. We need to make room in our minds and hearts for God to move within us, and prayer is an essential way to do this. Set aside time every day to pray, or if you are already in the habit of daily prayer, add some pilgrimage specific prayers and intentions to your day.
Gather prayer intentions
Gathering prayer intentions is a great way to make your pilgrimage more meaningful and guide your thoughts as you trek through the more difficult days. You can gather these intentions from family and friends and write them in the journal you are going to take with you on the pilgrimage.
Take everything as it comes
Along the camino, there is a saying that “the camino will provide.” Some get stuck on thinking that their pilgrimage has to be a certain way or they need to have a life-altering experience. This is not the case; no one has the same experience on the Camino. Put your trust in God, knowing that he will guide you along the way and help to transform you through this experience!
Curious about going on pilgrimage to the Camino de Santiago? Discover more here.