In 1976, I spent a month playing soccer in Banbury, England – near Oxford. One of the highlights was going to the old Wembley Stadium to watch Liverpool play Manchester United. It was there that I first heard them sing Liverpool’s famous song “You will never walk alone.”
The same holds true for the Camino. There are always friends to make and company to keep. As you walk, you talk and you find that everyone has a story to tell. Everyone walking the Camino is carrying with them many important relationships. I have let people know that I am a priest, and it opens up all sorts of possibilities for conversations.
One pilgrim ended a relationship with her partner over a year ago, and it still brings tears to her eyes to discuss it. Another couple spoke with me about getting married. A young man is starting to date someone after having been in a serious relationship, and he wants to move forward tentatively. A young woman is trying to find her balance and joy after ending a relationship. A.young man has not spoken to his mother in over a year. An older man has come through three stomach operations.
Everyone has something profound to say and some pain and joy to share, if we only have ears to listen and take the time and create a safe place where they feel free to speak. It is a joy to be a priest walking on the Camino, coming alongside of others and listening to them just as Christ did when he encountered the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
May you find deep joy walking beside those you love as well as encountering strangers along life’s way.