After a year enduring a pandemic, I am a bit exhausted. Pivoting has turned to fatigue. I am weary of screen time. I am tired of sitting at a desk. I miss being with people. Coupling all this with winter, and I am a frayed end. I’m thinking that I need to get out. I’d like to see people.
Some of you know that I have a long-standing wish to walk the Camino de Santiago. The Camino or “Way” is an ancient pilgrimage route. Depending on the specific route you take, many pilgrims walk the Camino Frances which begins in St Jean-Pied-de-Port, France and finishes in Santiago, Spain at the Cathedral of St. James. Now there is a lot of baggage with religious pilgrimages, and as I am speaking of them, I do not believe they offer any meritorious benefit other than the benefits of any other sort of trip. As I think about walking the Camino 14 miles a day for 35 days, I think the effort would be emotionally, physically, and spiritually demanding, I think that the challenge itself would be an incredible opportunity. It seems to me that such a walk would feel expansive, focusing, boring, and likely painful, but I also think it would be beneficial. So as I’ve been thinking about this past year, about my growing sedentary lifestyle and loneliness, I find myself thinking I need to get up and go somewhere.
Now I don’t think I’m going to make it to France or Spain anytime soon. However, I don’t think that means I have to sit inside and wait for an invitation to get out. I can do a pilgrimage in Kernersville. There’s plenty to see and do. There are sidewalks, neighborhoods, and all kinds of parks. In addition, there is the opportunity to frame such an experience within the structure of my Christian experience which itself provides a wonderful goal this time of year. The goal is Easter, and the frame is the season of Lent — the forty days (excluding Sundays) which begin on Ash Wednesday and continue to Easter. What if I could fit a pilgrimage within that timeframe? I believe I can. This is how Kernersville Camino has been birthed. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of years. This year seems to be the year to do it.
Here’s what I am going to do, and I would like for you to join me. Beginning Ash Wednesday, I will start walking daily. I may walk to church. I may go for a hike. I may walk around my neighborhood. I may hike six miles, or I may just walk for fifteen minutes. Regardless, I am going to get outside and walk for forty days (at least). What is more, I’d like to walk with others.
Here’s the plan. Aside from the walking I may do here and there, I am planning opportunities to walk together. Of all the activities which we might engage in, walking outside seems to be one of the safest in this pandemic. Though we’ll need to continue practicing the precautions we’ve been practicing, it seems we can do some of this without the most strict of those restrictions.
Through the season of Lent, I will be planning weekday and weekend walks or hikes. I’d like to do this together. Currently, I am thinking that I will schedule Saturday State Park hikes or Historical Site visits. These would be a morning or afternoon commitment. On Sundays I am planning on scheduling a hike or walk at a regional triad area park (a commitment for a couple of hours). During the week, I would like to walk in Kernersville on Wednesday. Wednesday walks may be at a local park or in a neighborhood. (Hey, why not invite us over to your neighborhood!) Depending on interest, availability, weather, and light, these walks may be during the day or evening. You can see the upcoming schedule of walks on our church calendar and RSVP on Grace Kernersville’s Church Center page.
Now because the Kernersville Camino is linked with Lent and Easter, it isn’t merely a walking or hiking club. There is a spiritual component, and by this, I mean we should be engaging our walk with the Lord. Jesus is after all, The Way. To help in this, I am working on pulling together some devotional materials.
One of the pieces that every pilgrim on the Camino has with them is a Camino Passport. The passport serves as a record of the places you’ve visited or where you’ve stayed. I have created a Camino Passport for us, which you may download and print off for yourself. The Passport serves as a log or a diary of your own Camino. For those who would like their own Camino Passports, we have some in the church office or you may download one here below.
Lastly, if you are participating in the Kernersville Camino, I’d like for us to document our pilgrimage by taking and sharing your pictures. If you would be willing I would like to print and hang those pictures on the green foyer wall. Please email or text your photos to me. In addition, if you post to social media such as Facebook or Instagram please tag or hashtag your photo with #kernersvillecamino or @kernersville_camino.
So, what next?
- Download your Camino Passport HERE.
- Follow @kernersville_camino on Instagram and hashtag your camino pictures with #kernersvillecamino.
- Text or email your pictures to Pastor Randy.
- RSVP to participate in Kernersville Camino group walks on Church Center. The first neighborhood walk is scheduled for 5pm on Wednesday, February 17. Be sure to check back for upcoming events.
Lastly, as Sir Walter Raleigh penned in his poem “The Passionate Man’s Pilgrimage” just over 300 years ago,
Give me my scallop shell of quiet, My staff of faith to walk upon, My scrip of joy, immortal diet, My bottle of salvation, My gown of glory, hope’s true gage, And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage.