Fairytales do come true. Miracles do happen.
Energized by what we genuinely believed to be Divine intervention, our walk continued mile by mile. I had to frequently stop to adjust my Velcro straps, and the pain was ever-present, but so was my desire to keep moving forward—no matter what.
Night after night, we checked into a villa and I made my way to the bathtub to soak my feet. Morning after morning, my wife inspected each foot and then dressed my wounds carefully with whatever ointment she had found that day. While the blisters ultimately claimed every inch of my feet, we soldiered on. My pace would be close to a crawl for the first thirty minutes of each day, but then I would find a steady rhythm. We avoided any notion of stopping once forward motion was in gear, fearing that the agonizing, feet-on-fire sensation might provide too great a temptation to stop for good.
Twelve days, 205 miles, and 485,866 painful steps later, we reached the Santiago de Compostela. A monk staffing the arrival counter did indeed ask, “What was the reason for your walk?”
My reply? “I did it for Dee.”
Over the years since then, many people have inquired about our experience. What did we learn? Did the walk change our lives? Would we do it again? Our answers are always the same.
We were grateful to have learned so much more about each other. Not only had we faced down a crisis, but we’d spent hours upon hours together each day, experiencing glorious nature coupled with quiet serenity. We rid ourselves of every post-it note that had been stored in our brains over the years, every story we had never shared, and every unspoken word.
We’d embraced hours of disconnected silence, allowing us to reconnect at a much deeper level. We learned that life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
In the end, we were changed by having this opportunity to think about each other, about our friends, and about our families. We returned home with a newfound understanding of what really mattered, which helped us decide where we were going to invest our precious time from that point forward. And as the title to this story portends, together, we ultimately discovered in so many ways how to have “more with less.”
Would we ever do it again? It took slightly more than six months for my feet to heal completely. Over time, our thoughts of returning to the Camino de Santiago began to surface. Yes, we were booked to return this year —taking our first return steps onto the Camino de Santiago almost five years to the day our last adventure began, that is; until the pandemic arrived. So it’s back on our bucket list when the coast is clear.
We will undertake the same journey—but with different shoes. In many ways, doing it again for the first time. And of course, blessed with yet another opportunity to “do it for Dee.”
Author’s Note: I hope you’ve enjoyed our personal story —as excerpted from the best-selling book, Chaos to Clarity – Sacred Stories of Transformational Change. published last November. On the heels of such a positive worldwide reaction, we are collaborating once again towards release of the second anthology in this series later this year – with a limited-time opportunity for more writers to participate – See: Write Where We Left Off – by Telling Your Story of Change.