Last year Michael Cleere walked the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. He enjoyed it so much, he's doing it again and shares why you should too!
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Which would you prefer, gentle reader? A terrifying drive as I had recently on the M25 in lashing rain at 4.30 in the morning on the way to Gatwick Airport, suddenly sandwiched between convoys of heavy goods vehicles in the lowest of low visibility, myself in the middle, fearful of becoming at any moment a piéce de résistance, otherwise known as mush.
My Cambridge Dictionary tells me that piéce is “the most exciting thing, often the last in a series of things”. It certainly felt like that on the M25! And before you report me to ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ about my accent going in the wrong direction, wellmy keyboard doesn’t have one.
But where was I? Oh yes. Would you rather that moment of madness or a journey along a quieter, holier Way, such as the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain? I thought you would, as I did last year when I fulfilled a promise to the good Lord and myself to undertake for the first time a pilgrimage that millions have completed over hundreds of years. Last year over 280,000 pilgrims from across the world did so for a variety of reasons. The vast majority (97%) were inspired by our Christian faith and the spirit of St James the Apostle, whose remains were discovered there in the 9th century and the magnificent Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela was built to his memory with all pilgrim paths now leading to this one destination.
I was among the many (91%) who walked The Way in 2016, setting myself a target of 100 miles and raising over £13,000 for Tearfund, while 23,000 travelled by bike, 345 were on horseback, and 125 propelled themselves or were supported in their wheelchairs. Of course there’s one other important and personal history-making figure that must be added to the list.
I refer to the five blisters on my feet that became unwelcome companions on the journey. Penance has always been an essential part of the pilgrim’s progress and you simply resign yourself to the pain and offer it up. But I added another tactic that delivered great results. Make a note of this now and stick it to the fridge door with Blutac or sellotape as it can be applied to many challenges in life. I may even copyright it before you do. I’ll get doctors to prescribe it, put it up on the internet for the whole world to see, get it announced from church pulpits. Here’s how it worked for me.
Rather than venting my anger on them, I decided to befriend them and even named them. They became The Blister Family – Bobbie, Billy, Bola, Bella, and Brian. As a result we became friends and allies. Within minutes the pain receded faster than a paracetamol could ever achieve and a reward was essential. Easy and cost effective. Good old Vaseline for the night and a fresh bandage for the next day. Smiles all round.
Oh, just one more thing. If you ever find yourself sandwiched between convoys of HGV’s in the middle of the night and the rain is pouring down – resist at all costs the urge to wave up at the driver to your right. It could be your last wave.
Michael Cleere and 25 Premier Christian Radio listeners are walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostela this July for Premier Lifeline. You can help Michael fulfill his mission of completing this walk when you make a donation to Premier Lifeline through Michael's Just Giving page.
“Join me in this faith-filled
experience and in the words of
St Richard of Chichester, to “see
Christ moreclearly, to love Him
more dearly, and follow Him
more nearly, day by day."
I will be your pilgrimage leader
and conduct group worship,
and local guides will add
in-depth commentary. Come, let
us take this path together.”