Perhaps the Camino Does Provide

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Perhaps the Camino Does Provide

by Mark Smith | Grand Haven, MI

Mark Smith Camino Provides, mile marker 0 in Finesterre.
Mark Smith’s final stop, Finisterre, on June 19, 2023. Photo by a generous pilgrim.

“The Camino will provide.” Wow, how I disliked that saying prior to walking my Camino! As it turns out, perhaps the Camino does provide. Let me explain.

My very first morning in an albergue in Porto, I was up early, and eager to get started, thinking I was prepared. The truth is that while I had a “plan,” I was frightened, but didn’t realize it at the time. That first morning, while sitting and waiting for the continental breakfast to be set out, I began talking with the woman who was setting it up. Just as she was finishing and before others joined us, she walked behind me and gave me a hug—not a short hug, not a long hug, but a perfect hug. I didn’t realize it at that moment, but that was something I needed desperately, and it set the stage for a nourishing walk. Perhaps the Camino does provide.

As I and others prepared our backpacks to start the morning, I saw a couple who were wearing IUPUI t-shirts. Most Americans wouldn’t know what IUPUI was, but I did because over 50 years ago, I spent a month at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. This, of course, was a conversation starter, and suddenly I had a Camino family, the two of them and two other pilgrims they knew. And because this wasn’t their first Camino, others from previous Caminos joined us off and on. Perhaps the Camino does provide.

The facts are that while I had my “plan” and anticipated that I would walk the Camino on my own, things changed rapidly that first morning. An extremely observant woman could see through my bravado, sensed my anxiety, and, with a hug, let me know that it would be alright. And while each day was different, and our group didn’t always walk together all day, it was reassuring to have a family to start and end the day with. Each morning we’d gather for a group photo, and we ended most days sharing a meal. A rhythm developed that first morning that carried me through my Camino. Perhaps the Camino does provide.

Mark set out from Porto on the Camino Portugués. Get more info on our Camino Portugués route overview.

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