The Camino

The Earth is located about two-thirds from the centre of our galaxy, commonly known as the Milky Way. When we look at the night sky we see a small part of the universe, but unless you have a powerful telescope only stars within our own galaxy are visible. On the Way of Saint James (more commonly known to pilgrims as, The Camino) – the Milky Way is visible overhead and has been used as a guide by pilgrims for generations to assist in the journey of some 500 miles to Santiago de Compostela.


Early one morning on my Camino experience in the summer of 2004 I left the albergue (hostel) and walked into some aluminium plates carefully laid upon the ground by a French teacher anticipating breakfast for his soon-to-be arriving students. In the darkness I had accidentally stepped on a plate while kicking another into the air. The resulting clatter and French invective followed as I continued on my way. I glanced back at the chaotic scene I had left moments before to see what I thought must be a contrast in expressions on the faces of both pilgrims.

Shortly after this serious set back in international relations I was alone with nature once again. I looked up to see an astronomical number of stars shrouded in a pale haze. I had never seen the Milky Way before but on this cold pre-dawn summer morning a cloudless sky revealed thousands of stars and offered some reassurance for the day’s peregrinations ahead. I walked more enthused and sure-footed than before until arriving somewhat abruptly at a steep hill. As light increased I noticed others nearby who appeared to have found a more suitable route to ascend and so took this path into the immediate unknown.



Charles Dickens.

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