“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Right? I sure hope so.
I’m writing this sabbatical update from an “albergue” (hostel) in Boadilla del Camino, Spain, about 437 km from Santiago de Compostella. Don’t ask me to put that in miles right now. My brain hurts. But not as much as my feet.
One of the many lessons I’ve learned as I have now finished Day 12 of walking the Camino is that “sole” care is just as important as “soul” care.
Here’s where my problem began. I’m a cheapskate. I bought my hiking shoes on clearance, even though they were a half size too small. I got a good deal, or so I thought. I believed my shoes would expand as I wore them in, but I didn’t take into consideration that feet would also expand with heat.
Long story short, my shoes are now donated to the “gods” of the Camino, as I left them as an offering somewhere around Lorca, Spain. I helped the Spanish economy in a slight way, as I purchased new trail shoes that have gradually been fixing my feet with the healing power of podiatrist therapy.
Yesterday I met Remi from Paris. He told me to pronounce his name like, “Jeremy,” without the “Je.” Remi has walked the Camino seven times. He should get a medal. Or a Nobel Peace Prize.
Anyway, Remi, who wants to become a Benedictine monk, told me I’m walking the Camino all wrong. I told Remi that I’ve run a number of half-marathons and even a marathon, and so I thought this would be a piece of cake. He said some things in French that I’m not sure were very polite, but then he said, “No! Walking 800 kilometers requires skill and technique just like any sport.” He commenced to show me how to use walking sticks (which I thought were just for kids and old ladies), and how to adjust my backpack if I’m going uphill versus downhill. He showed me how to improve my gait, and the way I land on my feet to reduce the pounding on the soles of my feet. He didn’t just tell me, he showed me. I mean, literally, he got up in the little cafe where we were sitting and began to demonstrate. In a cafe in downtown Indianapolis, that might have been a bit odd, but not in Boadilla, Spain, where most of the people sitting around us were other “pilgrims” intently listening in to our conversation and taking notes. You probably know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Many of us at one point probably thought, The Christian life? You bet. Give your life to Jesus, and the Christian Walk is no problem. But not too far down the road we realize that “sole” care is just as important as “soul” care.
What do I mean? I mean that taking care of your body, mind, and emotions has a direct impact on how you take care of your soul. In other words, Jesus is not only concerned about you getting to heaven but how you walk—how you live your life here on earth. We are to “walk in a manner worthy of our calling” (Ephesians 4:1). “Look carefully then how you walk” (Ephesians 5:15). “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely” (Proverbs 10:9).
If I don’t take care of the soles of my feet, this Camino experience in not very refreshing for my soul. Hmm. Sounds a lot like life. Stay connected with others, like Remi, who can help guide you to a better Walk. Keep your feet—and the rest of you—healthy. You will find the miles pass easier, and you will have a much greater appreciation for the beautiful scenery all around you.