The spirit of acceptance…a treasured souvenir to bring home

By Kelsey Brandt

Along the Camino I’ve met other pilgrims from all over the world. I expected this, but what I didn’t expect was the sense of camaraderie among them. It’s very easy to forget your toothpaste somewhere, or to get a blister when you have no bandaids. However it’s never hard to find someone who can help, and most of the time without you even asking. Several times I have been rubbing my feet during a break because of normal aches and pains and have had pilgrims walking by offer me bandaids or tape to wrap my feet, or even just advice and words of encouragement. I wear a knee brace occasionally, and every time I do passing pilgrims ask how I’m feeling and how my knee is holding up on the many downhill portions. Never before have I been in an environment with such a diverse group of people that share the same goal and care so much about each other’s success. It reminds me of the environment at Virginia Tech, but on a wider global scale.

The kindness of other pilgrims has inspired me and the rest of the group to contribute to the spirit of the camino in our own ways. One student was able to help an elderly pilgrim carry his backpack up a difficult portion. Several of us lent supplies to a Canadian pilgrim whose backpack had been lost by her airline, so for a few days she only had the clothes on her back. She then graciously shared a bottle of wine with us while we all talked about our reasons for making the hike to Santiago. Traveling in such a large group, we are not the typical pilgrims, but we have all felt accepted into the pilgrim community nonetheless. We have only two more days left on the trail, but I hope once we have arrived we can all take the pilgrim spirit back home with us.

Photo – Kelsey, on the far right, with Olivia, Ashley, and Tom.

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