The Camino continues — Thankfully!


It’s been over seven months since I left Spain.  I’m pleased to say that today, seven months after reaching kilometer zero at Finisterre, I still feel the sense of the pilgrimage.  Yes, I am a Pilgrim!  Reminders seem to come out of nowhere.

A good friend of mine, Chris, started his Way of St. James on May 9th from St. Jean Pied de Port.  Chris and I met several times prior to his departure to talk about preparations and expectations.  Now I get to follow his journey on his blog  He is now on day twelve – hope you can read and enjoy his experiences too.  He’s also doing a cool thing by tracking his t stops on  Really fun to see each spot that Chris “drops a flag.”

The other day during the prayers before Kathy and I and other Vincentians go into the neighborhood near our church to make home visits, we reflected on the gospel of the day.  The theme was “You are forgiven!”  As we discussed this, I mentally connected it to a similar phrase we hear a lot this time of year when Jesus said “Peace be with you.”  I think these two phrases have the same message, one I learned deeply on my Camino.  God doesn’t want us to carry guilt or worry or regrets or biases.  I think He wants us to know that as long as we strive to know and understand Him and His will and be in fidelity with His will, our past is forgiven.  Be at peace.  And be unburdened so that we are completely capability of being all He intends us to be.

The most obvious and poignant moment for this message along the Camino is at the Cruz de Ferro where pilgrims leave a small stone at the foot of the Cross representing all of our transgressions.  Accepting God’s peace and forgiveness isn’t easy.  It takes work and trust in God’s love and a vulnerability that doesn’t come naturally for most of us, especially those of us who like to have a sense of control!  But the freedom that comes with God’s peace is so powerful and so enabling.  The effort has to be worth it.

I’m so blessed that my pilgrimage continues.  Pray that yours does too!

Buen Camino!

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Next Steps. . .

I’ve reached kilometer 0, Finisterre, the end of the earth!  The journey from here back home will involve powered vehicles but I will always be walking the Camino.  I’ve been so blessed to have learned many lessons during my walk, my weeks on the Camino.  And I’m sure that there are still many more lessons that lie just below the surface which will emerge in the months, even years in the furture.


One evening, many weeks ago, as I was headed out for dinner after my daily hike, a person, still donning a pack and trekking poles and seeking directions, asked if I was a pilgrim.  Without thinking, I answered “Yes, I am.”  That question has been haunting me ever since.  I’ve been asked several more times “Are you a Pilgrim?”  Simply, am I a traveler on a journey to a holy place?  Yes, of course.  But the question evokes a deeper, more reflective response.

A pilgrimage isn’t just a long walk.  It is a journey that, if you are fortunate, becomes a journey of personal spiritual significance.  The holy place we are seeking on the Camino isn’t Santiago, the physical destination, it is fidelity with the Almighty, a state of beatitude.  A pilgrimage is a journey with a hallowed purpose. Every step along the way has meaning.  If lucky and thoughtful, life giving challenges emerge. A pilgrimage is not a vacation; it is a transformational journey.  New insights appear.  Deeper understanding seems to seep from the rocks of the path, the morning mist, the canopy of the trees and conversations with fellow pilgrims.  New and old places in the heart and head are visited. Blessings are received and healing takes place.  If really fortunate, past guilts, regrets and transgressions are left at the foot of the cross of our Savior.  The blessed pilgrim is free of baggage to know and pursue the will of God.  After returning from the pilgrimage, life is seen with different eyes.  Nothing will ever be quite the same.  Blessed are you pilgrim, because you have discovered that the authentic “Camino” begins when it is completed.  At its heart, the journey of each life is a pilgrimage,  through unforeseen sacred places that enlarge and enrich the soul.  Some pilgrims walk on paths.  Others toil at rewarding or thankless jobs.   Still others struggle with health issues.  All pilgrims are blessed!

During the last month,  I’ve met the most beautiful people, inspired by how genuine, open and sencere each one is.  We’ve laughed, sang, walked in silence, and even cried together.   I’ve often walked alone but never lonely, constantly accompanied by the love of my amazing wife, supported and encouraged by her love and that of my family, friends and fellow pilgrims.  Tomorrow I start the journey home but the Camino isn’t over.  I’m just taking the next steps.  “Are you a pilgrim?”  “Yes, I am!”

God’s speed and Buen Camino!


Americans headed to Santiago!





Last day!


End of the Earth!



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Sighting the Atlantic

Today was especially notable.  I was walking through the woods westward from Olveiroa when the path before me expanded and I got my first glimpse of the waters of the Atlantic from the Old World perspective.  I arrived in the town of Cee, right at the water’s edge, just ten miles from Finisterre, my goal for tomorrow.  Those ten miles are my last scheduled walking miles!  Then home!


I am looking forward to a very special day at Finisterre and kilometer zero.

I’ve loved this adventure, this piligrimage, but I am definietely getting homesick.  I can’t wait to get back to my own bed, my own shower and a laundry room with washer and dryer.  But most importantly, back to my beautiful wife.

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Amazing Camino

Just another amazing day on the Camino.   Beautiful time to think, pray and be inspired.   Just two more walking days until I reach the end of the earth.

Dinner tonight was most delightful, prepared by what I think is a family run B&B but called a hotel in Spain.

Just a reminder and some logistics.  The biggest Cincinnati Alzheimer’s Association event is this Saturday.  Registration starts at 8:30 AM.  For those who can walk with me, let’s meet near the B-105 radio booth and the Survivors booth on the left of the stage at about 9:30.  The Walk starts at 10:00.  We should be finished well before noon.  Look for me in my beige Tilly hat!  I promise we’ll have fun and a Buen Camino!





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Bonus Days!

Today started Bonus Days.  I left Santiago at about 8:30 this morning and continued to head West on my way to the End of the Earth — Finisterre – and the Atlantic Ocean.  It’s literally where the Western world thought the world ended until Columbus proved them wrong.  The total walk is 89 km or about 55 miles from Santiago.  Today I covered the first 14 miles.  Plan to arrive there in three more days

The walk today was mostly through woods on natural paths.  The number of pilgrims doing this journey is greatly reduced.  I think I saw fewer than a couple dozen all day whereas the crowd into Santiago yesterday numbered in the hundreds or more plus tourists.  Yesterday, I waited two hours in line to get my Compostella and there were nine stations writing the precious document for all the anxious peregrinos.

Today was a great day, walking through the morning mist, to think about the many blessings I’ve received over the last month, mostly, the support of a very loving wife and family and friends to put up with me traipsing across northern Spain.  Today I had the opportunity to again be grateful for my newfound Camino awareness. With all the emotions of yesterday and a cluttered mind, I easily could have missed what an amazing blessing this is.

Bien Camino!



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Santiago! Joyful moment. Quiet prayer.

After walking past some beautiful monuments, including the Monument to Joy, I got the first glimpse of the spires of the Cathedral of Santiago.   It’s about 5 miles over my shoulder in the picture.


Walking into Santiago and entering the plaza was joyous and humbling.


I thank you God, for bringing me safely here and for the many blessings and gifts of my pilgrimage. 

The company and kindness of strangers,  the beauty of the Way, the joy of traveling light, the strength to go on even in difficulties are reminders of Your presence within us and among us.

Now that I have arrived, I remember all our loved ones, especially those who have been in my heart and mind as I walked the Camino.   As I return home, give me courage to live in the spirit of the Camino so that I may make this world a more loving and peaceful place for everyone. 

I make this prayer through Jesus who is the Way, the Truth,  and the Life.  Amen!


Buen Camino!





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Evening update!

My innkeeper, Carmen, is a wonderful person and perfect for tired pilgrims.   Her salad is from her garden and she insisted on the picture of me as St. James.   I insisted on the one with her!




Bien Camino,



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Respite on the Camino

I got to walk with more wonderful peregrinos today.  Beautiful people from Kentucky, Colm, a recent transplant from Ireland, and Tessa.
As the weather continues to be near perfect for walking through the wooded trails of today’s Camino, I found myself in wonderful accommodations this evening.  It’s actually about 10 km from the trail.  The owner, a very nice lady, picked me up in Aruza and brought me to her “hotel” of maybe six rooms.  I miss socializing with other pilgrims this evening – there is only one other couple here so far – but a quiet evening is kind of nice!
The owner and I had a few laughs trying to communicate, each of us using Google Translate.  There is a nice grape arbor, dogs, chickens (Maybe one is dinner!) and a rooster crowing.  And good local wine of course.20170928_145039
Lesson for today: Be surprised and delighted by the unexpected.  Life’s an adventure, each moment to be cherished!
Ben Camino everyone,
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Can’t make this up!

I want to thank one of my fellow pilgrims for this title.   You’ll understand in a moment.
The Way the last two days has gotten very crowded.  Sarria is 111km from Santiago and the minimum walk to get a Compostella is 100km so many new pilgrims just started.   But I recently read the gospel about the workers in the vineyard,  some started early in the morning,  some started mid-day, and some only worked a few hours but all got the same pay.  It’s not the distance, it’s the journey in your heart that matters.
Prayers today especially for the Schaffer family.  Joe Shaffer passed away peacefully at home Monday.  Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him.
The path from Sarria was beautiful as was today’s path from Portomarin to Palas de Rei.  And the weather could not have been better.  Thanks to those praying for that.
Now for the reason for the title.  In the last two days, I saw a group of new pilgrims having wine at the first stopping point at 11:00 AM.  I stepped out of the way of a some cows in a town.  I got a credential stamp from a blind man in a little chapel. Saw a family harvesting their potato crop.  In a town with no power, ate the only thing available – spaghetti covered in tomato sauce, hotdogs and fried eggs.  Stepped into a church just in time to get Communion. And sang songs with people from Holland, among other things!



What a Camino!
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The walk from Triacastela to Sarria was mostly through woods and almost always along a beautiful stream that provided a soothing sound with each step.  I felt so blessed that I am able to make this pilgirmage and am so supported by my wonderful wife along with family and friends.
Just as I’m feeling pretty special, I walked into the town of Samos.  The center of the town is the Monasterio de Samos which was founded in the 6th centry and taken over by the Benedictines in 960.  It has ministered to literally millions of pilgrims for over 1,300 years.  I am not the first to do this!
Today is a rest day in Sarria for me.  Sarria is a nice little town and the traditional starting place for those who want to walk the required 100 km to get a Compostella, Certificate of Completion, that you’ve walked the Camino.  Many new pilgrims have arrived by bus or train to fill the albergues and hotels.  The usual walking segments put pilgrims just 5 days to Santiago.
I did get to visit a beautiful monastery to get one of the two required daily sellos (stamps) and take in all of the signs, pictures and sculptures that remind you that you are a pilgrim, one of many, and there is a whole world supporting this journey.
Thank you for your prayers and support.
Buen Camino!
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