Walking the Camino for my Milestone Birthday

This month I celebrated my 50th birthday and I realized that the greatest gift I received is actually-LIFE itself. Not only my life but the lives of those around me that I am blessed to fill my days with.

In this milestone year, I chose to walk a portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain with my family. Along with my husband, our four children, a future son-in- law and daughter-in- law, and our family priest, we walked just under 100 miles in 7 days.

A Camino of Change

We have become a world that doesn’t talk to strangers, but my 19 year old daughter was determined to meet someone new every day along our walk and taught all of us how to let down our guards and join in the adventure. In doing this we created bonds with “strangers” from France, Italy, Portugal, Australia, England, Scotland and Ireland. These were people I would have put my headphones on and ignored on any given plane flight, and yet we started to look forward to seeing them every day on the road and at night in the different towns at dinner.

Living With a New Outlook on Life

When I returned home I had a whole new outlook on life that I am still learning to put into practice. This trip helped me to recognize that it’s the people right in front of us each day, even a stranger from across the world that I will never see again, that may be there to teach me a new lesson in life that day. It also made me rethink my priorities and where I spend my days.

The most vivid example of this is the time I spend with my 95 year old mother. Much of the time with her is spent just holding her hand repeating the answer to one or two questions that are on the forefront of her mind that day. Yet, as I attempt to re-answer the question in a different way each time so that my voice doesn’t give away that I am repeating myself again and again, I am reminded how many times she must have done this exact thing with me when I was just two years old and questioned her incessantly, the way toddlers do. She probably had a list of to-do’s a mile long, but she would put all of it on hold to make time for me. She laid the foundation in the lives of my seven siblings and I to teach us patience, and most of all to teach us to love every life. Now it’s my turn to put my to-do list on hold and be there for her. Every time I hold her hand and see that she’s wearing a My Saint My Hero blessing bracelet I am reminded who taught me the power of prayer!

“Where this is no honor to the elderly, there is no future for the young.”

I will never forget being at an audience with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s square in Rome when he said, “Where this is no honor to the elderly, there is no future for the young.” This struck me to the core, and gave me a keen sense of how we are all connected from birth until death – and how every life is invaluable. I am grateful for my life, but even more so for every life that has touched me in some way.

I plan to continue my ‘Camino’ right here at home and I pray that I can be a conduit of God’s love in the life of at least one person each day along the way.

Benedictine Blessing Bracelets