Skip navigation

Gratitude to All & an End to the Camino Journey!

I have come to the end of the Camino! Starting in Pamplona on 23 May I walked for 37 days and covered 730 km. To do that I took 1,270,245 steps, according to my phone!

As I sit and look back on that time, I am confronted with a host of amazing memories. Some are memories of difficult steep climbs and sharp descents. Some are of breathtakingly beautiful vistas of amazing countryside and canopies of trees. Some are of incredibly inspiring opportunities to listen to people I met along the way and engage with them. Much of this I still have to process and integrate into my life.

The overriding memory, however, is of the people I met and engaged with during those days. There were people from all sorts of backgrounds, from various countries, from a great range of ages and religious backgrounds. It was so enriching to have the chance to listen to their stories and be inspired by them as we walked, relaxed in the evenings, or shared a meal. A culture was built up among pilgrims who respected and trusted each other and looked out for each other. I found it amazing how quickly people would share some very personal information about themselves, knowing that other pilgrims would receive it with respect. It was humbling to be trusted in this way and I was enriched through listening.

In addition, I walked by myself, reflected on my life, my experience of the Camino, and saw what God wanted me to learn. These periods alone enabled me to pray, reflect, and be aware of God’s presence with me, particularly in nature.

I came away from the Camino with a deep sense of gratitude for the numerous ways I have been blessed in my life, particularly on the Camino. In my prayerful reflections, while walking, I sang and quietly walked with God in an ever-growing awareness of his love for me.

When I arrived at the Cathedral in Santiago I came across people I had met on the journey. This was very affirming and reminded me of the blessings I had received while walking. I received my certificate after presenting the Camino “passport” in which I had to get two stamps each day from places I visited to show I had done the walk. However, I came to see that getting to Santiago was not really the goal. The goal was to do the walk and let God’s will become more obvious to me in the rhythm that emerged in my day and in my walking. While getting to Santiago was good, it was not the highlight I had expected. Rather what arose in me was that sense of gratitude that pervaded my experience there. The banner on my backpack initiated many conversations and allowed me to raise awareness among those people about what is happening in Palestine. From such discussions, many people contributed to support the students at Bethlehem University.

The day after I arrived in Santiago, I took the bus to Finisterre, the end of the earth as the Romans used to call it. While waiting for the bus, I began talking to a couple from Denmark with whom I then spent most of the day. Again, this was a wonderful encounter that was very enriching for me as we explored the area and some places leading to and from Finisterre.

I had a final lunch the next day with a pilgrim I had spent quite some time with on the walk and who was a great inspiration for me. I then flew back to stay with the Brothers in Madrid.

What did I learn from the Camino?? That is a question I will ponder for weeks and months to come! I still have not come to terms with the answer to that and will remain open to allow God to guide me towards an answer. One important learning is to see God’s guidance in the everyday events that make up my life and to treasure those. It taught me to live in the moment, and to keep putting one foot in front of the other – that is to persevere and remain open to what the day, life, might bring me. The ordering of my day around walking made me very aware of how I can clutter my life, whereas the Camino taught me how simple life can be!

As I mentioned, the overriding awareness is one of gratitude. I am grateful that I had the chance to walk the Camino. I especially thank Ghassan Salameh, who sponsored me and supported me in so many different ways. He shared with me from his experience of twice walking the Camino. I treasure his interest and support. I am particularly grateful to the many people who walked and talked with me during the 37 days I was walking.

The Bethlehem University Foundation orchestrated the fundraising aspect of this walk and I am grateful to James Howell and the team in the office for their support. However, I thank, in a special way, all of you who contributed to supporting students at Bethlehem University who continue to struggle financially, given what is happening in Palestine. I took 1,270,245 steps as my way of doing what I could with what I had where I was. I am impressed with the number of people who were inspired to do what they could with what they had, where they were, in support of those students! Thanks to you all! If you have not contributed yet you can still do so and thus support some very needy student who are financially struggling to fund their education amid the war and restrictions.

I ask you to continue to pray for me as I bring my involvement with Bethlehem University to an end and head back to New Zealand towards the end of July. I have been incredibly blessed through that involvement and am deeply grateful that I have been so blessed.

Best wishes and thanks.

Brother Peter

To make a final gift in solidarity with Bethlehem University students, as Brother Peter did via the Camino, please click here to support.