Finding darshan on El Camino

Español: El Camino de Santiago en Logroño (La ...

Español: El Camino de Santiago en Logroño (La Rioja – España). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“. . . setting out on a walk whose purposes exceeded the purely transportational or the simply recreational, and whose destination was in some sense sacred,  —Robert Macfarlane in The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot.

Today four friends of mine leave to begin their pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. They leave with excitement, concern, and curiosity stowed in their backpacks along with their supplies. They leave with plans laid but minds open to unexpected possibilities.

Feet have been pounding along The Way of St. James since the Middle Ages. For some, the walk begins and ends in a place of spirit. For others it begins in cultural curiosity and ends in personal reflection. Still others want nothing more than a good walk, but mystical moments catch them unawares along the way.

El Camino surprises people who gravitate there, for the mystical finds a home in people who choose to separate themselves from the everyday, and who let their minds roam free while their bodies fall into the lull of repeated footsteps, Whether they intend it or not, pilgrims stumble upon darshan, a Sanskrit term meaning  “a face-to-face encounter with the sacred on earth; with a physical manifestation of the holy.” (From The Old Ways)

I look forward to the stories they will have to share when they return. In the meantime, I plan mini pilgrimages of my own. I can’t replicate El Camino but I can go for a walk for more than transportation and recreation, and I can let my mind roam free while my body falls into the lull of repeated footsteps.

I wonder what sacred destination I will find along The Way?

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