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Where is God on the Camino?

November 5, 2012
S+L's Kris Dmytrenko is walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain. He may write regular updates for the blog, or he may not until he reaches the end--as the spirit (and wifi availability) leads him.
The Camino de Santiago is infused with Spanish Catholicism -- as it should be, since this walking pilgrimage leads to the remains of the apostle St. James, buried in north-west Spain.
Yet the Camino's appeal extends to non-Christians, as well. The beauty of the French and Spanish countryside, combined with the unparalleled adventure of walking 800 km, can push the figure of St. James into the background. His image is everywhere, but it's evident that many pilgrims only vaguely understand who is he, what he was martyred for, and why we venerate his relics.
So can God still be found on the Camino, particularly for those still searching for Him?
As I was wondering this, I met Helen. I had seen her before at a few of the evening masses in various towns, but we had never spoken until we stayed at the same pilgrim hostel one night.
Helen shared with me that she had just been confirmed into the Catholic Church before she began the Camino. This was her second Camino, in fact, and it was during the first pilgrimage a year ago that she encountered Jesus for the first time.
In the village where Helen and I were staying, the church remained locked apart from Sunday mass. But Helen found the local woman who had the key, and the church was opened for us. There we sat in silence, in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Here, in the tabernacles of the hundreds of churches along the pilgrimage, God is found by pilgrims every day. As Helen quietly thanked God for coming into her life one year ago, I was reaffirmed in my conviction that God is still watching over his pilgrimage.
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