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CAMINO

DE SANTIAGO

May 10 - 21

Spain

A thrilling 5-days walk trek through northern Spain!

The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. 


Some people are inspired by an interest in culture, others do it out of a spiritual conviction, yet others love the chance of adventure or approach it as a personal challenge…

 

Come and find out why. You'll discover a wealth of monuments, charming towns and villages, spectacular natural attractions, and a unique opportunity to reflect about your life, God, and yourself.

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Walking the Camino:

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I am turning 24 in a couple of months and I was baptised last year, during Easter. Took me years to discover the faith and to convert and to commit myself in this religion. I have decided to take a step further and to join the Camino in May 2019. It is famously known as the pilgrim trail of St James. I have some personal intentions to pray for during the trip and the trip also served as an opportunity for me to travel to Spain for the first time. The trek was 5 days and we have to walk for about 120 km in total. It sounds challenging but it is really manageable especially with the company of 10 beautiful souls. 

Here are some of the highlights of our trip: 

Lunch Break 

Lunch break is always fun! Imagine eating on the grass patch, in the middle of the forest, and a friend of our guide drove all the way here to deliver us hot food. I remember vividly that we had chicken wings and potato croquette for lunch that day. And after this, we took advantage of the tranquillity backdrop and sang a song for our guide. 

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Coke 

Never in my life, have I ever craved for soft drinks but I always surprised myself. On our third day of the trek, the physically most challenging day, we were rewarded with coke at the end of a  strenuous uphill trek. This coke was the most rewarding drink ever.

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Church 

Our goal for each day is to arrive early enough to walk into the church for Mass at 7 pm. Never in my life would I have imagined that the church is always waiting for me, for us. This is the same for our everyday life, where the Church is always there waiting for us. 

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Accommodation 

The accommodation during the trip is 11/10.

No complaints allowed.  

Friends 

Lastly, the most important highlight of the trip is the people that have journeyed with me. We were there for each other when we need someone to pray the rosary with, a lending hand, a pair of a listening ear. Thanks for showing me what friendship and love are :) This picture was taken at the mountain of joy where it is only a few km away from the cathedral. So you are supposed to feel very joyful, as you are approaching the endpoint and at the same time the beginning of our own Camino journey.  

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There are a few key takeaways that I would also like to share : 

 

It is your choice to follow THE WAY

This was the Camino sign that we have to look out for during the trek to Santiago. All you have to do is to follow the sign and walk. Just one foot in front of the other one. It wasn’t as easy and is the same as our life. No one said it was easy but if we learn to take signals from God and nourish ourselves with His teachings and become more aware of the signs that he sends us, we will slowly learn to follow The Way that he has planned for us. This was the biggest takeaway for me and I learn to make use of that belief that I have to lead my life. I learn to receive graces. For example, during my last semester with NUS, I was praying for a job but I got lazy and busy (a typical excuse) and did not apply for a single job. BUT… God sent a job to me and opened up a career path for me. A professor sent a personalised email with a job offering and recommended me the job. I went for the job interview and here I am, 6 months into that first job that I did not even intend to work at. I am blessed with a great company and the job location was only a stone throw away from my house and Hillcrest. Thus, I am able to receive my weekly formation and continue my journey with Christ even with a busy schedule at work. 

 

 

 

Be open minded 

This Camino, I invited a very good friend of mine to join too. I have known her for more than 10 years and she is a non-believer. However, she was being very open-minded about it, and she got to know about the faith. During the trip, she joined us at the mass and was very curious about it.  I am reminded not to be afraid to spread the Good news with my friends and glorify God. 

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CAMINO DE SANTIAGO - THE WAY OF ST. JAMES

 

From:                     Sarria

To:                          Santiago De Compostela

Distance:               ~113km

Date:                      11 – 20 May 2019

            When asked: “How was the Camino?”, I invariably answer that it was a great experience. But what exactly is the magic and the charm of the Camino?

            Before the pilgrimage, I had heard of the Camino de Santiago, an age-old network of pilgrim ways stretching across several countries, ending in Santiago de Compostela, Spain (the resting place of the apostle St. James) – but beyond that, I had never imagined spending five days walking the Way as a pilgrim. Nevertheless, the beauty of not knowing what to expect, is the opportunity to be surprised, challenged and thrilled at every turn along The Way.

          

           

            Our pilgrimage started in Sarria, a little town in the Galicia region, North of Spain. There were ten of us, and a lovely Spanish lady who was our guide. Blessed with brilliant blue skies, we set off in high spirits, taking in the sights and sounds of the Spanish countryside. Surrounded by rolling fields and flowers, sedentary cows and drinking fountains with endless flowing water, the worries from a busy Singapore city life seemed far away.

 

            However, as we walked, a different set of concerns beset us – the dreaded blisters, aching feet and shoulders, and a fatigue that set in as the days wore on. It was through these physical pains and discomforts that the power of prayer seemed ever more potent. Praying the rosary took our minds off the discomfort, and our feet further along the path. Silent reflections and meditations gave us the peace needed to trod on with tired but cheerful smiles. The pilgrim’s mass at day’s end in the towns we stopped to rest for the night served both as a goal (to reach the town in time for mass) as well as a comforting ‘home’ to return to and give thanks to God at the end of a long day. Along the Way, we also met people from around the world and all walks of life, each with their own stories…mother walking with her daughter, mother walking with her son, groups of friends, a family pushing a wheelchair-bound member…even the Spanish shop keepers and hosts of the albergues (hostels) we stayed in along the Way had stories to tell.

 

 

 

            And so the days passed in a steady rhythm, interspersed with prayer, good cheer and conversation that took us right into Santiago, beneath the bust of St. James and his tomb that lies below the altar in the Cathedral – finally here! At journey’s end…or was it? At the top of one of the entrances to the Cathedral was the symbol for the alpha and the omega, but in reverse order (with omega on the left and alpha on the right). Were we at the end or the beginning? The Camino itself may be seen as a well-worn metaphor of life, the cliché of walking towards a goal and achieving it, only to find that you are not quite at the end of the road but at the beginning of another cross-road. To me, the magic in the Camino was in

"taking the ordinary act of walking and transforming it into an extraordinary (spiritual) experience,"

such that the thought of another unknown beginning was no longer as daunting. It was the magic of giving new perspective to clichés in our lives, making them exciting and no longer repetitive or boring.

            Indeed, the next stop on the beginning of our new journey, just before we headed back to Singapore was the exciting beatification Mass of Blessed Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri. What was special was that Blessed Guadalupe was a lay faithful who had lived a life of heroic virtue – a wonderful example of faithfulness to holiness, lived out through an ordinary life, with much joy. And it was a palpable, infectious joy that filled the stadium where the beatification Mass was held, one which I am sure was inspired by Blessed Guadalupe’s joy in Christian living.

            Upon returning home to Singapore, I came across this quote while listening to a spiritual reflection:

Following Jesus is the readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new unchartered paths to blaze trails that open up new horizons capable of spreading joy – a joy that is born of God’s love, and wells up in our hearts with every act of mercy”.

 

I was struck how perfectly this summed up my Camino experience – it was God’s way of saying:

   

“Get off that couch! Put on your walking shoes and start exploring!”

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old trail, new horizons

Charline

Genevieve

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