Reflections from the Camino | To Be on Mission

As we experienced moments of vulnerability and weakness along the way, we didn’t need to suffer alone, but could actually accompany each other – this is our mission.

At the end of May, Creatio guided a group on a 168 mile pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain.

There are many things to say about the Camino, but one point that resonated deeply with me was what it looks like to “be on mission.”

As an apostolate, we talk about this often, but it’s difficult to put into action. Walking the Camino for 12 days showed me concrete witnesses of the faith, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of Christ’s Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). 

Along for the journey were 2 Dominican Friars and a crew of 13 young adults from all over the USA, Switzerland and England who listen to the Friar’s podcast, Godsplaining. 

Being a large group of young Catholics (signified by the white habits of the Friars), we naturally stood out among other pilgrims. As we walked, we were immersed in the rhythm of pilgrimage – 5:30 a.m. wake up, breakfast usually consisting of café con leche and a chocolate croissant, walking around 4-6 hours, rest time, dinner time and community time in the evening to listen to a formation talk, drink a beer, stretch the legs and prepare for it all over again the next day. 

Mile after mile, the Camino offers remarkable time for silence through long winding paths with vast countrysides. It’s beautiful to spend so much time moving and experiencing the flow of the day and the peace it had to share.

At the same time, it forces pilgrims to face reality that provides few comforts.  It strips people down physically as they deal with aching joints, throbbing blisters, or torrential rain. Pairing this with extended periods of time to think and reflect, the physical challenge meets an internal, emotional one as well. This is where the real fruit comes. 

We encountered endless amounts of people along the way, each with a story to share.

In the sense of connecting with others the Camino felt extremely simple. There’s hundreds of people that you may meet in a day all with a zeal or purpose for their walk. This shared goal of reaching Santiago offers a commonality that seems to put people at ease, makes people more willing to share deeper parts of their heart and to connect on a level you may not typically see in day-to-day life.

While the Camino is “The Way of St. James” and rooted in Catholicism, many who walk are not Catholic or practicing any religion. 

Despite having many different reasons for walking, it was remarkable to see the vigor, openness and mutual respect among one another. We laughed, cried, communicated in different languages and created authentic connections.

As we experienced moments of vulnerability and weakness along the way, we didn’t need to suffer alone, but could actually accompany each other – this is our mission.

Walking alongside people, carrying them when they need it and allowing yourself to be carried by others too – even Jesus had the help of Simon to carry His cross. It’s in this accompaniment where we experience a glimpse of the divine and can live the way we are called.

Being on mission means being an authentic friend. It’s living with the joy of Christ radiating throughout your entire being. It is sharing this joy with others. 

On the Camino we were able to serve one another and live the way Christ calls us to – what a beautiful gift. 

It’s been over a month now since returning back to the U.S, and it feels easy to slip back into day-to-day life and to lose the zeal. This transition from an intense emotional and physical experience to a more mundane work life almost makes it seem like life on the Camino was in a separate universe. 

But, the reality is there are souls all around seeking and searching for authentic connection and purpose. 

There aren’t yellow arrows and pilgrim shells directing every step, yet the call to mission remains the same. We must continue to invest in people, ask good questions, and be willing to listen and marvel at the wonders of the human heart in everyone we encounter. 


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