The Camino of life
‘Path-walker, your footprints and nothing else are the Camino; Path-walker, there is no path, the Camino is formed as you move.’
We create our own path in life. Others can guide us on our way, but, ultimately you and you alone can shape the course of what is yet to come. The compass to your future lies within. It takes courage to stay true to your course. Dare to believe in you especially in those hours when you’re tested most. There’s a spark inside that will not let you down. Honour it lest the moment pass you by. Take that first step. Your footprints will steer you on your way.
Align your path in life with all that matters to you. Invest your energies wisely. We get one shot at it, we may as well get it right. Do not force the pace. Take a moment to soak in the panoramic beauty that opens up before you. No matter what each new day brings, always seek out your own oasis of calm. The outdoors have a magic all of their own. Almost unknowingly, the universe will step in and nudge you in the right direction. That walk by the river’s edge, that stroll along the headland, that road few have travelled… unearth something in us we may not otherwise have known. We are creatures of depth, so too our world. Stardust floating through the vastness of time has found its way to you. It takes just one spark to light the way.
Autumnal shades add a poignant beauty to our trails at this time of the year as light ebbs slowly into distant skies. I often think of those who have shaped the person I have become. We all have people we wish were still with us. The simplest of things stir their memory. We sense them near though far. Nothing can fill the aching void of absence. We hear them speak through the silence as falling leaves swirl in gracious homage to the mystery of it all. We rise again as a crimson glow seeps into our bones. There’s a life to be lived. The way feels warmer now.
Everyone walks to their own rhythm in life. The Camino is no different. We are one but we’re not the same. It’s the steps in between that matter most as we make our way. The destination… that can come later. Kindness is what carries us when our own spirits begin to wane. I’d always notice those who slow their own pace so as to make time for someone else. The beauty of this gesture lies in its simplicity; a quiet word of encouragement, an attentive ear, a willingness to pause and take a breather. Unheralded acts of human kindness have a power beyond what the eye can see. The road does not seem as long anymore!
There are times in life when you face into a storm you never saw coming. Out of nowhere, a deluge descends leaving you exposed to the ravages of the elements. It can we a scary place to be. Even on good days, when we feel the sun on our back, we can lose our bearings; we make mistakes, we overrule our better judgement, we invest our energy in people who are nowhere to be seen when we need them most. We become participants in a drama that somehow leaves us doubting ourselves.
It’s then you’ve got to find courage from somewhere. Turning back on all you’ve lived for is not an option. Keep believing in you, in life, in whatever it takes to help you drive on. You have a value beyond what the world can reach. No less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here. Step back from those who ridicule your demise. Bitterness weakens and consumes. Instead, gravitate towards the people who see your worth. This time will pass.
There’s a depth to us all we should never under-estimate. Something ‘kicks in’ to help us overcome. Our Celtic Camino along St Declan’s Way is a test of stamina. 25km every day for 5 days in succession pushes you to the limits of your endurance. I’ve seen a woman in her mid-70’s haul her way over the Knockmealdowns and draw on every fibre of her being to make it into Mount Melleray. Stoic courage of this kind inspires at the deepest of levels. Pilgrim paths of old call us beyond ourselves into the vast unknown. It’s good to test ourselves against the elements every once in a while. Here on the periphery, we come face to face with the truth about ourselves and our place in the world. Wisdom of this kind lingers long into the night.
Your life is not mapped out for you in advance. Reach out for your destiny but with a light hold on the reins. Allow space for the universe to intervene. We cannot do it on our own. We are stronger when we are part of something greater than ourselves. Places of solitude and quiet connect us to source. We were never meant to heave from one target to the next at the speed of light. We need space to just breathe, to come to the well, to tune into the deeper melodic strains that make life worth living. We soon discover each note matters, we matter. Stillness calls us beyond ourselves in search of something deeper. Peace descends in the telepathic flights of the starlings as they make their way home.
We are all custodians of something timeless in our midst. Our ancestors have left an indelible mark on the universe that we need to value now more than ever. It is good to seek out those sacred spaces that have been passed on to us by those who have walked this way before. Pilgrim places draw us deeper into the soul of our people. Our Celtic past has shaped who we have become. A visit to the dimmed enchantment of an old monastic ruins on a hill in Ardmore has the power to draw us deeper into the vast expanse of mystery that surrounds us. Now is the time to distil all that we have inherited and re-claim the treasure that lies within its ruins… not just for ourselves but for those who have yet to pass this way.
If we’ve learned anything from the last year, it’s that friendships matter. It’s lovely to unwind as each day moves to a close. Good company, tasty food, the bit of craic, a song or two… puts the seal on all that has gone before. True companions are everything on the Camino of life. It’s then the pieces come together and the way becomes clear.
‘Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path and that will make all the difference.’
Dr. Phil and Elaine Brennan are looking forward to leading groups from the States, Norway, Britain and Ireland in 2022 on our signature ‘Celtic Camino – in the steps of St Declan’ in association with Cahir House Hotel and Mount Melleray Abbey along with our ‘Celtic Camino in Ireland’s South East’ in association with The Tower Hotel, Waterford. We will also be teaming up with Original Irish Hotels to roll out unique Camino experiences to include Glendalough, St. Mullins, Ardmore, Gougane Barra and Dingle. You can contact Phil and Elaine directly on firstname.lastname@example.org We’ll be updating our website www.waterfordcamino.com over the next few weeks to reflect these new offerings.