The Camino is an invitation. An invitation from God to “Come and see”.
On one level, it is an invitation to come and see the art, culture and history of a route and pilgrimage that has done so much to shape the identity of our Europe. It is an invitation to come and see the city, cathedral and the tomb of Santiago the Apostle who represents the fulfilment of the command to go and preach to all nations.
On a deeper level, it is an invitation to come and see what it means for a human being to be a true pilgrim – to hear the voice calling, “Rise up and leave your home”, to experience the transforming encounter with others, the Camino, with ourselves and with a God who welcomes each and every one.
By following the yellow arrows of the Camino pilgrims discover new values for their journey – openness to the stranger, receiving rather than demanding, tolerance of difference. We can discover much about ourselves, about others, about our strengths – and our limitations. The Camino can be an opportunity to see ourselves afresh.
Above all, those returning from pilgrimage speak again and again of their profound gratitude for the hospitality which they have received both in the Camino and upon their arrival at Santiago. It is this hospitality that allows those who follow in the footsteps of generations of pilgrims to experience the paradox of the Camino; feeling at ease in the new landscapes that the Camino carries us into whether external or internal, while being a stranger in these landscapes.
And finally…….after an incalculable number of footsteps, after the adventures and discoveries of the journey we can learn the power of arrival at journey’s end both at the cathedral of Santiago and our own home. In arriving we realise that we have reached our journey’s end not as we left. The Camino has opened new possibilities for our lives.