In the last blog I listed some of the insights I gained from walking the Camino of St. James. The first one was “appreciate those who walk with you.”
As we traveled along the Camino, we encountered hundreds of other pilgrims; with most of them we shared only the universal greeting of “Buen Camino.” But there were many others who walked with us along the way. We saw them several times, stayed in the same albergues with them or shared a table in one of the cafes during our rest and refreshment breaks. With a few we shared the thrill of reaching Santiago together. I was struck by the gentle peace of our relationships. No one seemed interested in making comparisons between the way they were making the pilgrimage and my progress. People had no interest in making a case that their reason for walking the Camino was superior to someone else’s reason. I never overheard or had a conversation about whose religious convictions were better, whose country was the best or whose hiking gear was superior.
So, what emerged in me was a profound sense of appreciation for those with whom we shared part of the journey. The further along the way I walked, the more I experienced the peace and joy of being with others. I began to ask myself why I don’t appreciate people I meet in my daily life the same way. My ready excuse was that the situation is different. I told myself that in our daily lives, some people are just naturally harder to appreciate. But the truth, for me, is that it is my mindset that is skewed.
Everyone we meet is making his or her own pilgrimage through life. I might not understand their purpose, and I might disagree with their approach; but I can appreciate the fact that they are on the road with me. Life is too short and too precious to waste time evaluating and criticizing others, especially when I will share the path with them for only a short while.