“You’re doing what?”

I could only imagine the shocked reaction my family would have to my announcement that I was going to walk across Spain. It was October 2014, and I had finally decided to fulfill my long-held dream to walk the legendary Camino de Santiago. Also known as the Way of St. James, the Camino is an ancient pilgrimage along the field of stars that follows the Milky Way, a journey of 850 kilometers over the French Pyrenees across Northern Spain.

As a child, I dreamed of being an astronomer. Now, I was actually going to follow the Milky Way. The Camino attracts not only Catholic pilgrims, but also many spiritually minded people who wish to test their resilience by hiking through several mountain ranges and the Mesta of Spain. It is a journey that crosses both harsh terrain and the landscape of the soul.

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My heart was telling me it was time, so I prayed and asked for clear guidance on what would be the best decision for our family. For the first time in many years, I had a six week window where none of my children were graduating or in a major production, and I was emboldened to know that I wouldn’t miss any important milestones.

I shared my desire to walk the Camino during our next family meeting. I had prepared a list of all the reasons why I felt guided to go on my Spanish pilgrimage the following spring. To my surprise, the list was not needed — my husband and kids were totally supportive of my decision to follow this dream. My husband, Jeff shared that he thought it was a great idea; my son, Evan, enthusiastically said, “That’s awesome Mom!” My daughter, Tori, smiled approvingly at me while Allie gave me a big hug.

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Why wouldn’t they be supportive of me? I had supported my husband and children in reaching their own dreams. I realized that the lessons I was to learn on my pilgrimage had already begun. It turned out that my list of “whys” was an exercise for me — I was building a firm foundation so that when the winds of doubt tried to sway me, I could remember why I wanted to do this.

I had a date with the Camino de Santiago on May 15, 2015.

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Tracy J. Nicholas 2015 ©


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