Over 20 years ago my mom walked the Camino with three of her best friends. I was 29 at the time, raising a young family with no idea what life had in store for me. Each September after that, those same four women traveled together. And each year as I listened to the tales of their current adventure, inevitably one of them would mention the Camino and say: “Do you remember when…” Clearly, something about the Camino had made a significant and lasting impression on each one of them. It became something I dreamed of for myself, but it took 20 years for my heart and body to be prepared.
As many of you know, Andrew is 6+ years post transplant and the road getting here has been as hilly and rocky as the 120 kilometers Jon and I just walked. My life has been nothing like what my 29-year-old self imagined, but it has been extraordinary. These years have made me into the woman I am today, and for many reasons, I would not trade those years for anything.
Yesterday Jon and I stood on Monto do Gozo (Mount of Joy) with a horde of pilgrims, all of whom had reserved the last bit of energy needed to walk the remaining 5 kilometers down into Santiago de Compostela. As we walked down the hill, most pilgrims became introspective and quiet. I walked with Jon, concentrating on the comforting sound of his footsteps and the rhythmic clicking of his poles on the ground as we entered the city.
Soon the wide city streets narrowed and the medieval stone buildings loomed high. The click-clack of pilgrims walking sticks echoed off stone walls and shoppers stopped to say “Buen Camino!” as the pilgrims made their way to Plaza del Obradoiro. I walked next to one young pilgrim in his 20’s who was carrying a heavy pack and walking so slow that he leaned on his walking stick and paused for seconds before taking the next step. I caught his eye, smiled, and the look in his eyes told me he had been walking for months.
I took Jon’s hand. Two more streets. We could see the church spires above the buildings. I’ve got this, I told myself. I did it! I accomplished something pretty great.
But when I turned the last corner and the plaza opened out wide to reveal hundreds of pilgrims gathering in front of the cathedral, I was overcome.
And I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing.
Two decades of waiting, hoping, wondering, experimenting, fearing, praying, anticipating, guessing, planning, accepting, trusting and now LETTING GO, all gushed out at once. I had carried all those years on my back for the last 120 kilometers, and now was letting it all go in the middle of an ancient stone square in Spain with hundreds of people who didn’t know a single thing about me.
Jon took Frightful out of my pack and set her on my shoulder. She and I looked at the world with our whole heart. And it was so beautiful.
Blessings to you,
Kristin Jarvis Adams is a public speaker and advocate for children with special needs, helping to bridge the gap between the outside world and the inner world of autism. Her speaking engagements have included: Seattle Festival of Trees Gala, a benefit for Seattle Children’s Hospital and The Seattle Children’s Autism Clinic. Learn More>>