This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to the annual Gathering of the American Pilgrims of the Camino in Black Mountain, NC. Interestingly I accompanied, Steve, who I only met after following his blog, during his 2016 Camino, which was responsible for my 2017 Pilgrimage. We are now best of friends.
This was only my second Gathering but I have to note that the YMCA facility hosting this years event, is a huge step up. The location, in the mountains, just outside Asheville is stunning. It was fun to see friends from two years ago and a few from my Camino.
It was interesting to notice a few contrasts between my 1st and the 2nd. I can clearly remember walking into the 2017 Gathering in Atlanta very nervous as I did not know one person, plus this Camino business was a huge departure for me. I had so many questions about food, equipment, blisters….. My main concern was how to survive walking 1000 kilometers without getting hurt or lost.
The most notable change, for me, was a new depth of conversations. Clearly people are changed by Pilgrimage.
My recurring thought was about firsts. Notably that – you can only do something for the first time once. What will my second Camino be like? Will I be able to find the energy and motivation to accomplish all that is necessary to make it a reality?
Many of the presentations made me nostalgic to return. I know I can never go back to that first experience. I will never regain my virginity.
Perhaps my most important lesson from the weekend was the reminder to “say yes to the Universe” and trust that if I find myself led to another Camino, it too will present new joys, pains, people, and lasting memories. It will become my 1st 2nd Camino.
Buen Camino 👣