Volunteer Julie’s blog part 8: What makes a good pilgrim?

Volunteer Julie’s blog part 8: What makes a good pilgrim?

20 September 2022

It is a question many of us who walk to Santiago de Compostela and other pilgrimage sites ask ourselves. Yesterday morning at breakfast I had a brief conversation with another pilgrim about having booked all my accommodation. His response was that a pilgrim takes his chances when he turns up at an Albergue. This is not my my view, nor is it that we are duty bound to stay in Albergues or Refugios (simple hostels usually with dormitories).

I believe a pilgrimage is for everyone and how it happens can be adapted to meet the needs of every individual. John Brierley tells us in his Camino guides that a pilgrimage should be a challenge. This does not mean that we should make it so hard we are likely to fail and that we do not take steps to keep ourselves safe. Taking sensible precautions to look after our personal, mental and physical wellbeing makes us wise pilgrims.

I am a 63 year old woman often travelling alone. For this reason I consider: my preparation to undertake a pilgrimage, how far and how fast walk, where I stay, who I keep in contact with, what I carry and many other factors. If a pilgrim stays in a comfortable hotel or has their luggage transported it does not make them less of a pilgrim. What matters is stretching ourselves to create an environment: where we are open to what emerges within the experience, what we choose to commit ourselves to, make time to pay attention to our thoughts and reflections and of course to engage in encounters and relationships along the way.