15 lipca 2017

The Camino of my soul - opowiadanie

I was holding a stone in my hand and thinking: “God, please give me the strength to do it, please lead me to the end of the way…”. The first trip by foot in my lifetime was starting – and it was a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

First moments

From the airport in Warsaw – one “hop” and I was in Portugal. My plan was to cross Portugal walking by the coast and reach Spain. There I wanted to visit the Cathedral of Saint James in the city of Santiago de Compostela.

I took a stone from the ground as the symbol of my worries, pains, sorrows to carry it with me on that journey and to finally leave it under the columns of the Cathedral, wrapped in a piece of paper with my intentions. To leave it there meant to say good bye to all those worries, pains, sorrows and to start a new path of life – the end of the way would be the new beginning. But until that could happens there was about 260 more kilometers to go.

Day one

I understood what it meant to feel a supreme excitement. I waked over 40 km, passed through villages and towns, and only almost at the end of the day - when heading to the albergue - I felt the most awful pain in my legs. That’s when I understood that despite this pain I will have to go on, for ten days, to the end. “I will do it” I kept saying to myself in Polish, “Idź dalej! Go ahead!” 

Next day

Before the sun went up, I was ready to set off again. To the next city, crossing rivers, forests, fields, highways… always with the stone in the pocket. In villages people wished me “Buen Camino” and I felt supported and loved by those strangers. Other pilgrims walking by wished me “Buen camino” as well. They were asking if I needed any help or sometimes just quickly chatting about life and plans while walking. 

Soul at rest

Sometimes I didn’t feel my body - I didn’t feel the stone in my hand, pain in the back and legs. It felt like it wasn’t my nose that could smell corn in the fields, pine, eucalyptus in forests, grapes in vineyards. Like it weren’t my eyes that looked at the landscapes. It was my soul that felt the beauty. I was saying to myself: “How beautiful the world is. Just look around.”. And, smiling like an idiot, I tried to save in my memory all those views I saw… each and every kilometer of the path.


The Camino makes you feel like you had the most important mission in the world to complete – and it would be to heal your soul. The whole way helps you on that mission. You pass by crosses and churches, monuments and symbols of Saint James. You become a part of this way… you become the way yourself and you try to get to the end to understand its meaning. 


I’ve learnt a lot from this trip. One thing was that the road will provide you anything you need… A water fountain when you’re thirsty, trees when you’re desperate for shade, jars with candies left there for pilgrims when you’re hungry, and if you need a place to sleep - all of a sudden a Spanish woman will offer you a room for the night. 

On the Camino you would feel like if a caring hand be showing you the direction. Literary it happened to me – one time when I was walking early in the morning (before 5 am) I got lost in the darkness and couldn’t find the correct way, and then – by a coincidence known only on the Camino – there came a runner who showed me a direction with a joyful “Buen Camino!”.

New beginning

I had time to think over the way I used to love the world, my family, friends and people around me and myself, my blockers and my pains: to start pushing myself to forgive, to love, to fight fear and uncertainty. Despite stress and tiredness, despite heat from the sun and difficulties, I felt happiness each day I walked. 

I was different before I started this trip and when I reached the end. I achieved my goal, I left my stone in the Cathedral of Saint James and prayed there and I finished my way - the Camino of my soul, but it wasn’t the end, it was just a beginning.

Instead of “The end”

Saint James figure was standing there in front of all those pilgrims gathered from around the world. They walked the same way as I did, they suffered pain, fatigue, they found silence. All those different people who wished me “Buen Camino” on the way were now together with me in the Cathedral. And I had a feeling that they would come back here again to feed their souls with kindness and love on the Camino.

By Hanna Lukovych

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