One of the many joys of taking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago was the sense of community with strangers. 95% of the pilgrims are not from the United States. The diversity in size, shape, age, fitness, color, and background made this a potpourri of humans. The most common similarity was our interest in caring and sharing.
I found the bond with fellow walkers to be instantaneous. Camino relationships can last from 5 minutes to a lifetime. Our common denominator was a desire to wander and seek the unknown from this path. This trait seemed to tie us together like blood does a family. As kindred spirits, we walked each other home to Santiago.
When a friend was in need, the community responded. It may be an ear to listen to a tale. Money flowed freely to the people that could not afford food and lodging. Time went to those that needed attention. Blister bandages and ibuprofen transferred from the haves to the have nots without thought. Just like volunteer work, I found the act of sharing to be more rewarding to me than the recipient.
After returning to Boise, I am very fortunate to have written a book to share my experience with the world. I am also grateful for the opportunity to speak on a regular basis and share the journey with strangers. The ripple effect is felt on a daily basis as people call or email me with their personal stories.
One day, a lady sent me an email telling me that she bought my book and read half of the story on a cross country flight to Boston, MA. She arrived to spend a few final days with her dying mother. She finished the book on the return to Portland, OR. I cannot believe that my story helped to ease the pain from this horrible moment in her life. We are now friends for life.
Last Friday I spoke at a local bookstore. One of the attendees called me a few days prior to the event. He had purchased the book in December and finally read the story last week. At 73, he is now considering a 500 mile walk on the Camino.
Last week, I met with a stranger at a coffee shop. She read my story and had a long list of questions for the java session. This morning, she sent me an email with her flight reservations.
A few months ago, I was at a local library in Boise. The librarian and her husband had a keen interest in the talk. They recently sent their daughter to Spain to walk for a high school graduation present.
One of my favorites was last fall. A woman from Sacramento sent me an email telling me that she walked the Camino and was enjoying my story. A few days later, she discovered a photo of some mutual friends in the book. After further discussion, she realized that we actually crossed paths in Spain. I am also filled with gratitude that she put me in touch with our mutual friends.
These vignettes are small samples of the synchronicities that appear in my life all the time. I chose to share my story with the universe and it returned contentment, a fulfilled heart, and many new friends.
Be careful when you decide what to share with others. Sharing positive attracts positive. Drama will attract negative chaos. Choose wisely!
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