PC #109 – The Camino as healer…

Every family has its tensions – and sometimes these interpersonal hostilities go back to childhood.

Personally, I think they go back lifetimes.

In my family, it’s been my sister Anne and me. Anne is five years older, and we’ve always fought. Ever since I can remember. I won’t go into why we’ve fought, but we just have.

There’s always been a huge tension between us.

And then I did the Camino and she started reading my blog. And one day, out of the blue during my walk, I got an email from her. I never get emails from my sister, other than to tell me what an asshole I am.

In this email though, she told me that I’d changed, and that I was now a nice person. That’s the word she used, nice. And she signed off Love, Anne. 

This had a profound affect on me during the Camino. And when I got back home I called her, and we had a wonderful talk. I can’t remember when my sister and I have ever spoken on the phone without there being some underlying strain.

There was none on this call. She reiterated that while reading the blog during my Camino, she’d realised what a nice person I’d become. There’s that word again – nice. 

Last night, at our family get-together, I saw her for the first time since the walk. She rushed up and gave me a huge hug and a kiss, (which again never happens), and she said to me: You’ve come back. Meaning, I’d returned to my essential being.

We sat together and we talked and laughed. In previous years I’ve usually found a way to sit up the other end of the table, and not say much to her. Last night it was like a huge veil had lifted – a veil that had separated us since childhood. And I could see her clearly, and she could see me clearly too. That we were brother and sister, we were family, and that we loved one another.

She wanted to talk to me about my Camino, about the towel, and how important it was that I give it back to Balazs. And the Korean lass at the Santiago Cathedral Pilgrims’ Mass, how she rushed over and hugged me. And my sister told me how she laughed and had tears in her eyes when the lass asked: You take taxi? 

I was surprised to discover how keenly she’d followed each step of my pilgrimage – and last night we sat together and we laughed and chatted and I simply can’t remember the last time we’ve done that.

I told her my new niceness would now upset the whole dynamic of the family. And we laughed about that too.

When I think about it, this would have to be the most important thing the Camino has given me – it’s brought my sister and me back together again. After more than fifty years.

The Camino reminded us both that the only thing that matters is love.


42 thoughts on “PC #109 – The Camino as healer…

  1. That is absolutely fabulous, Bill. How exciting and excited you both must be. I can relate to your story with my sister as well. She read at least one of my blogs and commented which meant so much to me. But, then she never said another word. I’m so happy for your both and another way in which the Camino is so far reaching……….xoxo


      • On the note of the Camino working in mysterious ways, you will love this. I’m preparing for my Camino talk and am desperately trying to design the poster. One friend had agreed to help but a trip has interfered with the timing so another fellow has volunteered. He came over yesterday to go thru my photos and if course we were chatting about the Camino. He tells me that he has actually been following someone who had taken the trip who is know blogging about the “effects” of his journey. I wondered if it was the blog of a friend of mine who walked it a few weeks after Steve and I did due to his excitement from learning if my trip a week before I left. So I asked him who the person was expecting him to say, “Steve” ( not our “Steve” but another) and he said here let me show you and hands me his phone with none other than “PGS – The Way!” on the screen!! So, how’s that for far reaching!! Oh by the way this persons name is Steve as well!! Just knew you’d get a kick out of that.
        Sure wish you could come to this benefit it would be a kick!! Our Steve will be there, too. Sister, Anne, PGS family you are all invited!! Save the Date…… Oct 5, 8:00pm



        • Hi Jill –

          that is amazing.

          But I look at my stats and I am regularly getting between 600-800 visits per day, which is also amazing. And of course there are only a few people who actually post comments, so there must be a huge number who just follow. So it’s wonderful to see that it’s far reaching, as you say.

          I would love to hear what you have to say at your talk. That would be such fun. Will Steve be there?



          • Yes, Steve will be there. I am working on the Poster and will send it to you in a separate email. I think you will get a kick out of it. Its a benefit for the School of music which my friend just opened and I am connecting the Camino and Music as I see them being connected in my own life. I’m doing a play on words with the movie Casino Royale an original James Bond Spoof movie from 1967.


          • Jill, that’s so clever- the “casino” switch. It sounds like a terrific presentation. Wish I could be there to see it! Good luck. I know you’ll be great!


  2. Bill,

    I am thrilled for you and her!!! I cannot imagine a world without my siblings!! Love is ALL that matters!!



  3. So happy for you and your sister to reunite!!!! Maybe this is the week for it. A work colleague just returned from a week in his homeland of New Mexico (USA). As we worked yesterday morning he talked for 4 hours straight about reuniting with family that had fought and written each other off for many years. He said clouds of hate and resentment lifted after they all visited their Ancestral Pueblos together and left with happy hearts.


  4. Bill, such a blessing. There is nothing more upsetting than to have siblings who cannot get along together. I hope you and Anne share lots of happy times now and the past is all behind you.
    P.S. an extra blessing – the Swannies had a win. 🎈🎈


    • Hi Anne,

      Sorry for this delay in getting back to you, but I had a long drive back from Stanthorpe to Newcastle, where Jen and I are going to see her brother’s new baby tomorrow morning.

      We drove down the Thunderbolt Highway, which runs parallel to the New England Highway, and it was spectacularly beautiful.

      Thank you for this comment. Yes, my sister and I have dropped away all our defences and hostilities.

      It’s really wonderful.

      By the way, when do you leave?



      • Ah, the joy and miracle of new life. Babies are certainly a gift to families…and you have your sister back also. Such joy. I live in hope that my siblings, like so many families, may one day put aside their egos and differences and be at peace with each other.

        Bill, I am scheduled to fly to Sydney next Saturday morning, then board my international flight through to Dubai and London then on to Madrid. I hope to be in Leon by Sunday night, Spanish time. A long flight, as you well know.
        Still feeling poorly but have a huge week ahead as it is the last week of term. Slowly completing the checklist.

        Please keep me updated with the footie scores next weekend.


        • Hi Anne –

          what’s made this birth quite remarkable is that the mother – the wife of Jennifer’s brother – has quite advanced MS, and she’s in her late 30’s, so the birth is a miracle.

          The baby was born premature, and was only 5lb, but it’s well and a beautiful little thing.

          And as for the footy – well, the Swans did fabulously on Saturday night. I left the family dinner early to catch the 2nd half. But I just hope that their injury list doesn’t hamper them in Perth on the weekend.

          Kurt Tippett being out would be a huge blow, and is there a chance that Teddy Richards could be penalised a game? I hope not. They are capable of beating the Dockers, even at Subiaco, but they’ll need everyone firing. The game on Friday night should be a cracker – Hawthorne vs Geelong. That’s the minor Grand Final, I’d say!

          I’ll send you scores.

          By the way, how I rationalise a long flight is by saying to myself: Hey, in 24 hrs I will be in Madrid. That always makes me feel better!



    • Thank you Peter.

      By the way, I had another big drive today – 700kms, which took 8hrs -but I was telling Jennifer about you and Maggie, and the difficulties you were having with posting photos – and what she suggested is that if you want to send me some photos by email, and some text, I can post them up on this blog.

      And you can do that every few days if you like – use this blog as a way of getting your photos up.

      My email is billpgsblog@gmail.com.

      The offer’s there if you want… Irrespective, I hope you and Maggie are having a great time.



      • Many thanks Bill, the spirit of the Camino shining through. Just having a coffee stop in Granon, an hour and a half out of Santo Domingo towards Belorado. Having a ball, loving every minute, except the hills! Maggie and Peter


  5. I’ve been away at the snow for a week and decided to just read one blogpost from each blogger that I follow – I’m so glad I chose this one of yours! Reconciliation borne out of love is The Best Story Ever.


    • Thank you Rachael!

      I can put it squarely down to two things – 1) The transformative power of the Camino, and 2) this blog. Because if I hadn’t done the blog, and been so open, my sister would never have known.

      Hope you had a great time down at the snow by the way!



  6. Hi Bill,

    I’ve been following your blog for several months now but have neve felt the urge to contribute – until today ……

    This was such a simple message, but at the same time one of the most powerful posts on your blog that I’ve read to date!

    Thank-you so much for sharing it.

    I have distant plans to do the Camino, probably in 7-10 years once I’ve sold my business and the kids have finished their schooling.

    However, lately I’ve been giving more and more thought to doing the Camino WITH my 3 children.
    Not sure yet if I’d do it with all of them together, or individually in the year or two after they finish school or university.

    Most of your posts reinforce this idea to do the Camino with my kids – today’s post even more so!

    Thank-you again!



    • Dear Greg,

      Thank you for posting your comment. It means a lot to hear from you, and to get this feedback.

      Sometimes I post things of a personal nature, and I wonder what her I should – whether I am breaking any trust – and also I wonder if I’m being too ego-centric.

      This was one such post where I really wondered if I should reveal stuff within the family – and if so, would it carry any meaning to anyone else.

      In other words, was I just talking about myself just to talk about myself.

      Well, your post here has told me it was worth putting up – so thank you!

      As for walking with our children, only you know what’s best to do, but if you choose to do so, then I feel safe in saying it will be an experience that will bind you for the rest of your lives.



    • Hey Greg,
      Would it be out of place for me to encourage you strongly to consider walking with your kids? We did a short portion (Astorga to Santiago) with our eight this time last year and have just booked tickets to return with the youngest four (who will be 8-13 years) at the end of April. Of course, just because something worked for me it doesn’t make it necessarily beneficial to you – but do give it some serious thought.


      • Thanks for your input Rachael.

        Wow! If I read correctly you did the Camino with 8 kids!
        What a fantastic accomplishment! Congratulations.

        My thoughts at this stage is to do a shorter section of the Camino, not exactly sure which portion but would have to finish in Santiago and be at least 100 KLMS so that we can get our Compostela.

        I think I’ve read somewhere that the average age of pilgrims on the Camino is over 50 so it is great to hear from someone who has done it with younger generations!

        Thanks again,


      • Thats great.
        Off topic: Suffering as I do from Camino blues from time to time I have started to re read your blog and all the lovely photos bring back great memories. Its strange that I can look at a photo of a church or part of a town and say I don’t remember that, but then I see a photo of a small stretch of footpath and can remember it vividly.


        • Hi Pat –

          yes, I’ve seen all your “likes!” Thank you!

          And I agree – sometimes a stretch of road, or a place where you stopped to have lunch, or where you had a chat with someone, can be far more vivid that a church, or historic monument.

          Why is that??



  7. PS. I actually do KNOW the difference between NOW and KNOW and IF and OF but evidently, between spellcheck, my eyesight first thing in the morning and the fact that I answer everything on my iPhone, I just hit send and only later on when I’m at my computer do I actually read what I wrote!! Embarrassing to say the least! xoox


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