PC #104 – Conversations…

One of the great pleasures of walking the Camino is the opportunity to have some pretty interesting conversations with some very interesting individuals.

The Camino acts as a lubricant. It gives you license to talk to people that you don't even know. That you only just met. That you wouldn't normally talk to.

Sometimes those conversations rarely get beyond blisters and sore feet and the next day's stage. There's a lot of those conversations on the Camino.

But then there's those conversations that you remember for the rest of your life. That change your life.

The Camino fosters intimacy. And so your talk can get very deep very fast.

And you might not ever see that person again.

One of my regrets from my Camino is not hanging back and talking to a bloke about the nature of the universe. An engineer from South Africa. I had more miles to do that day. I wished I'd stayed and talked to him.

These Camino conversations can be profound.

And can be part of the transformative process of the pilgrimage.

A chat that at the time seemed random and inconsequential can, on later reflection, be what you needed to fix what needed fixing.

The Camino works in mysterious ways…



33 thoughts on “PC #104 – Conversations…

  1. Bill,
    I remember two such deep conversations from last year.

    The first one was a woman who had walked the Appalachian Trail in 3 months all alone.
    The second was a fellow from Perth who was trying to sort out his life.

    Both Laurie and Bob, came into my life, revealed their innermost concerns and then were never to be seen nor heard of again.

    My regret was that I never exchanged contact information with either of them.


    Note to self: Get contact info from fellow pilgrims and give them your intro card.


    • Hi Bill and Arlene –
      I’ll take the liberty of commenting for Britta who as you know is leaving today for the UK and Denmark and of course on my own behalf. The conversations we had with other pilgrims were gold, pure gold.
      One conversation I had with a lovely pilgrim from San Francisco, who was walking in honour of her husband who had died the year before from cancer – way too young at 51 – will stay with me always. We walked for several kms. up to the Cruz del Ferro together on the first anniversary of her husband’s passing. She had planned her pilgrimage so she would be at the Cruz del Ferro on this important, but very difficult and sad day. We never crossed paths again, and Britta and I wondered about her, and hoped she was OK. The Camino provided as it often does – our concerns were put to rest when we were reunited with her at the Compostela Office – our smiles were as wide as Australia !!!
      Arlene – the intro cards are fantastic. Britta handed out LAMINATED small cards – 1.5″x1″ – the reasoning was that as they were laminated they would be less likely to be lost. I’ve still got mine! Great idea!
      Cheers – Jenny


      • Thanks Jenny –

        what a wonderful memory to keep, that conversation.

        How very poignant, and as you say, sad. But inspirational too.

        Yes, we’re going to miss Britta.

        Britta, if you’re reading this before you go, SAFE TRAVELS mate!



    • I love that, Steve! I’m going to copy it to remind me that you never know when your words can be a healing, inspiring thing for someone else.Probably when you least expect it!


      • I think their words are more cathartic to them than my words. It is important to let people talk about their difficulties, as they can talk themselves through them.


        • That’s true, Steve. I’ve always noticed in my counselling work that often just the act of describing the problem gives a person some needed perspective, and they go on to solve the problem. But I don’t think anything can replace knowing there’s a caring listener present.


          • Hi Sister –

            isn’t that the basis of all psychological counselling?

            Sorry – I’ve just had a big row with Jennifer over this concept that death is right/wrong.

            I’ll try and write a separate blog on it, and put Jennifer’s POV, because she is coming at it from a very esoteric standpoint –

            Jen and I don’t often have rows, but this subject got us both going. We’re sitting in our sunroom arguing about the rightness or otherwise of death – that is actually very funny.




          • Sorry Bill, but I don’t understand. How can death be right or wrong? Its like the wind or the night sky. It just IS.


          • All things made of changing, living cells, come to a natural end, a place of no more regeneration, called death. Anyone can sit on a hill and deny it, but thats the cycle of what we know as life on this planet. No amount of philosophy can change that.


          • Since Jesus never said that, the priest is wrong. I’ve read the New Testament more times than I can recall, and its not there. As a matter of fact, Jesus said of believers that we ‘are in the world, but not of the world.’so why would He have been making a comment like that about death? Death was always spoken of as the great transition, forgiveness, redemption -the time we leave our bodies behind ( also a quote) and move closer to God in His Kingdom.


          • Thank you sister,

            And whilst I don’t have the Buddhist texts to hand right now, (I’m in a supermarket car park!) essentially you have to die to be reincarnated. And that cycle of birth and death only stops when you achieve enlightenment.



        • Yes, but sometimes you say something that might have very little meaning to you – an offhand thing – and it has incredible power to the person you’re talking to.

          And you don’t even realise.

          That’s happened to me a few times – where someone comes back into my life and they say: “Hey, do you remember when you told me to do ” And I have absolutely no recollection of having said it. But the person says it had a profound effect on them.

          And you shake your head and wonder



  2. The conversations one has which are cathartic, memorable and life changing remind me of a blog posting some time ago- about allowing others to help, asking for help, as it might just be in that act of giving that another seeks purpose and worth. It is very much the pebble in the pond.
    I am looking forward to the conversations, random acts of kindness and Camino angels.


  3. Dear Friends, because that is the way that I think of you –

    I have already noted a lack of talent for conversation. I am in awe of those people who easily and meaningfully converse. But I had to put in a voice for us “solitary folk” who find our diamonds in the dust of solitude.

    Submitted with only a brief comment for context. The following excerpt comes from a most excellent novel which centers upon a young man, passionate about flyfishing and the way in which it introduces him to life, love and the Divine. I share it because I believe that I should. The passage captures an experience that is probably common to many of us from the Camino. On the other hand, if I am a singularity then I am blessed by circumstance and can only hope that some day, you will be given the same gift.

    “The sky began to grow light in the east behind me. I just walked and watched. Mist clung to the river as sunlight crept over the Coast Range. The road was white with frost: it shone like a strip of moon surface in the early light, running from east to west like a horizontal bar of a cross. The entire valley hovered, still, before me. Somewhere a raven called….

    And then I felt it – a sharp pain in the heart, like a hook being set. I whirled around: sunlight struck me full in the face. My eyes closed.

    And then I saw it – the vertical bar – a line so subtle it must be made of nothing nameable. And it ran from my heart of earth and blood, through my head, to the sky; ran like a beam of watery light; ran from the changing, flowing forms of the world to a realm that light alone could enter. But my pain grew sharper: mad with joy, I sank to my knees on the white road,

    And I felt the hand, resting like sunlight on my head. And I knew that the line of light led not to a realm but to a Being, and that the light and the hook were his, and that they were made of love alone. My heart was pierced. I began to weep. I felt the Ancient One drawing me toward him, coaxing me out of this autumn landscape, beckoning me on toward undying joy.

    The hand was lifted. The nameless presence faded, and the light around me blended with the sunlight I knew. But in my heart the wound stayed, and the good hurt. I rose from the road, brushed off my knees, wiped my eyes and drew breath. Then I walked – though I knew that from this point on the road, and from this point in my soul, there was no escape, and nowhere to go.”

    (The River Why, David James Duncan [1983])

    Did I mention that it is an excellent book? And, near as I can tell, he never saw the Meseta or Galicia by the time he wrote this.
    And, please, do continue to try and bring us solitaries into a conversation now and then. We’d like to contribute but we’re kinda like mosquitoes in a nudist camp. (“What to do” is easy, “where to start” is hard.)



    • Hi Brendan –

      that’s an extraordinary passage of prose.

      And a perfect posting for this particular thread. Thank you!

      I have to say that the one thing I looked forward to most, before leaving for the Camino, was being by myself.

      And I rarely walked with people. And when I did, it was only ever one on one. Never with more than one person.

      Much as I love my gorgeous wife, I’m pleased she didn’t come with me. She would tell you baldly that she’s pleased she didn’t come with me too!

      Being alone allowed me time to think.

      That passage you quote lifts the heart. It shows you what’s possible, if you’re open to the silence.



    • Brendan, have you read any Mark Helprin?Or “Sometimes a Great Notion” by Ken Kesey? Both have moments like your excerpt. I love books that sneak in transcendance. And I love when you poke your head into the blog and ask questions about wonder, in your wonderful way. You know, don’t you, that you are one of my favourite dusty diamonds.


      • Hi, Sister!

        Kesey, Yes. (Great stuff!)

        Helprin, no – but now he’s on an ever expanding list.

        Dusty? Hmmm, no, there’s a lot of mud still around me but the Camino got off the hardest stuff, for sure.

        Cheers & sweet dreams,



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