Diverse Camino

Stage 15: Boadilla del Camino to Carrión de los Condes
Official: 25.63 km // iPhone Step Count: 26.4 km

While the Camino de Santiago cuts through northern Spain, the people who flock to this ancient trail come from every nation on Earth. As we walk, whispers scatter along the trail in languages near and far. Spanish mixes with English, Korean, and Polish. Each sentence is parsed together with patient jestures. When translations fail, smiles and laughter fill the gaps.

In a world where each country is growing terrifyingly nationalistic, the Camino suggests the opposite.

Rather than fearing the stranger. The Camino welcomes others with open curiosity hoping to discover a profound truth in their storied life.

Rather than asking them to, “Speak English Goddamn it!” The Camino welcomes this new language and supports the opportunity for diverse dialogue.

Rather than closing doors to others. The Camino invites people in with radical hospitality and sees each person as an encounter with Christ.

Fear plays on our willingness to love. 

Fear preys upon our stupidity. 

Fear closes our hearts to others. 

Fear closes our minds to God. 

As we pilgrims walk the Camino each step strips away our fear. Wallets lay open atop beds. Passports exposed for hours. Phones left abandoned on chargers in various corners of buildings. 

Our time together on the Camino reminds each person, from each nation on Earth, that we are all together. When we walk the Camino no “Country is First.”

The rich diversity is celebrated. A group of Italians cook pasta with a group of Koreans. Two Japanese Pilgrims boil eggs with a man from Ireland. A Romanian sautés chorizo as a Russian and Lithuanian chop onions and peppers. Each culture teaches one another about the rich flavors of their lives and the bland mundane nationalism is seasoned with international flare. 

When I walked the Camino in 2016, Brexit was decided, Trump would soon be elected, and nationalistic movements were on the rise. Each of these campaigns were won on the basis of instilling fear of “the other.” This bigoted idolatry cuts humanity off from one another and segregates our world into flavorless voids. Siloed by our fear, we neglect any possible for hospitality thus disregarding any chance to “greet others as Christ.”

As we each walk our own personal Caminos, how might we expand our circles to include richer diversity?

As we meet people along the way of life, what might we be able to learn from the immigrant, gay, transgendered, black, or minority person?

As we find ourselves siloed by fear, how might we lean into the transformative power of love and lower our walls to welcome others into our hearts? 

Regardless of our country of origin, religion, gender or sexual identity, we all have a place, not just on the Camino, but together in our one shared home, Earth.


In no particular order, here is an incomplete list of the country of origins of people we’ve met thus far:

  • Korea
  • Hungry
  • Switzerland
  • Lithuania
  • Japan
  • Sweden
  • French
  • Romania
  • Spain
  • England
  • Colombia
  • Ukraine
  • China
  • Taiwan
  • United States
  • Belgium
  • Norway
  • Italy
  • Russian
  • Canada
  • Armenia
  • Ireland
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Isle of Man
  • Germany
  • Philippines
  • Albania

5 Comments

  1. It’s not fear of the other that is the basis of nationalism. I’m not a bigot or racist. Unless that name calling makes you feel better and isn’t a reflection of your own stupidity…which I am sure it isn’t. A shame politics got involved. Enjoy the walk…thanks for the updates.

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    1. Whoever you are, I appreciate you following along with my Camino. These days have been a challenge physically, mentally, and emotionally. When you are bombarded with people of infinitely diverse faith and cultural backgrounds it is impossible to not examine your own faith and politics. While I did mention Trump and Brexit, calling either movements “nationalistic” is not in the least bit a stretch, nor were either campaigns inherently racist. Nationalism, by its very nature, is however a movement towards isolation and exclusion of the other. Furthermore, both aforementioned movements heavily campaigned on misinformation and fear of the immigrant.

      The point of my reflection was not to lambast either political movement, but rather to express the need to move beyond ones comfort zone and meet people who our culture often suggests is “less than.” This call is also entirely Christian, and in line with Christ’s Gospel message of sharing meals and spending time with people whom his culture despised.

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  2. Bobby, another vision to see and learn from through your eyes and words. Such an enlightening and enriching experience to behold. Thank you for sharing with your vivid use of vocabulary. I wait impatiently for each of your entries.
    Love❤️
    Mom

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  3. Diversity reflects the majesty of our Creator – all images of the divine. It saddens my heart that we fail to recognize the beauty of diversity in the natural world and cherish ALL of God’s creation.

    Like

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