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Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to…

Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed

by Sonia Choquette

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I found this account of Sonia Choquette´s Camino pilgrimage to be enjoyable and enlightening. Her intuition told her to walk the Camino after the sudden death of her brother and father, and the break-up of her long-standing marriage.

Sonia´s narrative is down-to earth and reading it is almost like taking the trip oneself, without of course the hassle and pain.

We are given detailed descriptions of her breakfasts at the various albergues (hostels); sometimes these were extremely meagre, just a slice of dry bread (or perhaps there was some margarine too) and an inferior café con leche, while a few were sumptuous meals.

Sonia´s feet became torturously painful and remained so, but she kept on. I greatly admire her strength, courage, perseverance and faith.

The Camino is a more than 800-kilometre trek over the Pyrenees and across Northern Spain to Santiago – a spiritual pilgrimage. The Camino was one of the three major pilgrimages in the Catholic faith. It was believed that the bones of James the Apostle were buried in Santiago. Sonia felt in some deep part of her being that she had already walked the path once before. She also felt some connection with the Knights Templar - Crusaders who previously protected pilgrims. Perhaps she had been a Knight Templar herself.

Sonia had two bags with her, a relatively light backpack she designated Pilgrim, which she carried on her back, and a heavier bag, Cheater, she sent ahead from stop to stop with a transport service. She also had with her a little “totem friend” called Gumby, who kept her company.

She wanted to walk the Camino to become free of the guilt, anger and shame she was carrying. She also wanted to obtain forgiveness and herself to forgive both her father and her husband, Patrick.

Sonia allowed herself to feel her emotional pain throughout the journey. When she let go of her dark thoughts she could keep going, but some of them were tenacious so she had to let them be,

She nourished herself with Power Bars, and her meals or snacks mostly consisted of egg bocadillos. I tried to let go of judgement of her favourite beverage, Coke, and worried about her excessive use of Ibuprofen, though I understood her need to take them to relieve the pain in her feet.

Every day she said a prayer, like this one, for example: “Holy Mother God, my toes hurt. Can you work a miracle and help them heal? I can barely walk. I need your help ----“.

There is a chapter for each stage of the path, for instance, from Zubiri to Pamplona.

Whenever the pilgrims passed each other, they wished each other “Buen Camino”. She got to know many of the pilgrims, meeting them again and again at various stages of the Way.

Each day revealed a new theme, for example, anger. Sonia´s father did not permit her to express anger, and her husband Patrick accused her of not having her anger under control, and she admits this was true. The worst part was her own judgement and shame for feeling angry.

She had created a vicious cycle of anger and shame. The more she walked, the more these angry feelings intensified and then subsided. But slowly they began to exit her body, leaving her with quiet instead.

Eventually, she started up a steep climb known as the Hill of Forgiveness, and prayed for forgiveness.

She realized that she had every right to be angry and would allow it, if necessary, but she would never again be shamed about being angry.

She meets up with a pilgrim in whom she can confide, whose name proves to be Patrick, thereafter called “Camino Patrick”, and later another one, to be called “Camino Patrick 2”. (She was not permitted to forget her husband.)

The pilgrimage was for Sonia a continuous walking prayer.

At the completion of the Camino, Sonia was no longer a broken person “chained to --- the feelings of grief and anger that had been for so long buried inside (her)”.The Camino had healed her of all that. In its place was “a quiet space in my heart, filled with compassion and love for all human beings”.

The book also includes various interesting photos from the trip.

I highly recommend this book recounting Sonia´s physical and emotional tribulations and spiritual transformation during her captivating Camino pilgrimage. ( )
  IonaS | May 3, 2016 |
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