Following in the Footsteps

Camino Portugues at Tui, Spain

Camino Portugues at Tui, Spain

On my second pilgrimage in Spain – this time from Tui to Santiago de Compostela along the Camino Portugues – I became aware of the importance of this prayerful walk as one in which I was not alone, even though I walked it alone.

Certainly, there was the communion I felt with God’s beautiful creation all around me as I walked under sheltering trees of eucalyptus and pine forests, through quaint villages along country lanes, friendly villagers urging me on with the words, Buen Camino (Good Way), bordering fields ripe with the fruit of harvest, doves cooing, roosters crowing, and dogs wagging their tails.

And there was the sense of common purpose with other pilgrims, whether they were walking in front or behind me, walking along with me, or sitting by the trail resting.

This was also my experience on my walk along the last 115km of the Camino Frances, but this pilgrimage held more meaning for me because it more closely traced the path left by the Apostle Iacob (St. James) when he walked and preached the Gospel along the Roman roads through what was then Iberia, from the south to the northwestern coast known as finnesterre (end of the earth).

This path along the northwestern coast was also taken by two of his loyal disciples when they returned his martyred body from Jerusalem to his final resting place in Santiago De Compostela.

Monte Santiaguino above Padron

In the towns along this pilgrim path, you could experience the legacy of this apostle through the people who live there. They filled local churches, kept fresh flowers on their wayside crosses (cruceiros), and in many other ways showed that they still followed in the footsteps of their beloved Santiago.

It struck me how our lives can interact in ways that speak of our valued principles (our morals and ethics) beyond words and a moment in time. As I walked, I was encouraged onward by the footprints left by those who walked before me. And with each step I took along the trail, I left a footprint that showed a pilgrim’s progress to those who followed.

Even when there were no other pilgrims in sight, I would come upon the traces of their prayerful walk through the rocks left on waymarkers to mark a moment of prayer for someone, crosses made of small branches left on the path or weaved into fences, a worn pair of shoes, a note to other pilgrims, or a memorial with the photo of someone who was in their prayers.

Camino Portugues waymarker with rocks

Camino Portugues waymarker with rocks

In the quiet recollection of my journey, I became aware of how this path was formed by pilgrims following for nearly two thousand years in the footsteps of the Apostle who followed in the footsteps of Jesus – and how this pilgrimage stretches forward in time and beyond that path throughout the earth.

I encourage you as you walk your Camino, to reflect on the footsteps you are making, the path you are taking, and the Buen Camino we can make for one another.

Comments welcome,



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12 Responses to Following in the Footsteps

  1. Tom says:

    I admire your faith and fortitude on your spiritual and physical journey. My prayers are with you on your quest ahead and in life.

  2. Doc says:

    Thanks Tom, for your words of encouragement. That’s how we walk our Camino: with each other’s support. I pray for you as well and wish you a Buen Camino!

  3. Mary says:

    The walk looks so peaceful – I can see how it would be an incredibly spiritual journey. Thank you for all your prayers!

  4. Doc says:

    It was a peaceful and beautiful walk indeed, Mary. It provided a serenity that helped to elevate my prayers to a higher pitch that made it feel spiritual in the sense of making a stronger connection with those for whom I was praying and to whom I was praying. Nonetheless, I often found myself walking at a faster pace than I had planned (as you can tell by my breathy audio on the video I took as I walked through that village), which along with the mountain ridges, sometimes made it physically demanding, but worthwhile.

  5. Greg says:

    My wife and I did our first camino in July this year – the same route from Tui to Santiago. I had wanted to do it for a long time and yet I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m still reflecting on the experience – it’s hard to explain to those who have not done it how extraordinary it is. And I’m not sure why it made such an impression on me – perhaps it’s just the opportunity to be removed from the stresses and distractions of the modern world and have the time to walk, reflect and pray. It was a wonderful way to spend my 60th birthday. We are already planning our next one – a different route, but still ending at the cathedral in Santiago and the pilgrim ‘s mass.

  6. Doc says:

    Hola Greg, Congrats to you and your wife on completing the Camino Portugues! Apparently, you were walking on the same path and at the same time that I completed my walk. I am sorry we did not meet, but I am glad you shared your experience with us here. And congrats on deciding to walk it again along one of the other Camino routes. My walk along the Camino Portugues followed exactly by one year, a previous walk I made on the Camino Frances. I wonder what Camino route you will choose for your next one? I have been thinking of walking the Camino Norte or the Camino Primitivo if I get to walk the Camino again. I wish you a Buen Camino – when you return for another walk as well as when you are back home as a peregrino in spirit!

  7. Beth says:


    What a lovely blog to read. Although we don’t typically know where our path will take us or what impact it will have, the journey itself is beautiful when we slow down to take it in. Thank you for sharing.


  8. Beth says:


    Your statements, “It struck me how our lives can interact in ways that speak of our valued principles (our morals and ethics) beyond words and a moment in time. As I walked, I was encouraged onward by the footprints left by those who walked before me. And with each step I took along the trail, I left a footprint that showed a pilgrim’s progress to those who followed.” Made me think of the “Cardboard Testimonies” from church last week. ( ) We all walk in the footprints of Jesus if we choose the path and also leave footprints that continue His legacy.

  9. Doc says:

    Thank you Beth for your valued insights into the true spirit of the Camino: our journey through life.

  10. Doc says:

    Thanks Beth for sharing your feedback on walking in the footsteps. On the Camino, we follow Santiago who followed Jesus, but we all follow and lead as you suggest and leave tracks for our loved ones to follow. This is more than metaphor, it is life fulfilled. Blessings to you on your walk!

  11. Tai Day says:

    I was very happy to read this post about your second pilgrimage. Did you walk both times by yourself? Thank you for the beautiful video giving us a glimpse of your experience walking. Thank you for your closing words encouraging us to “walk your Camino, to reflect on the footsteps you are making, the path you are taking…” I hope to someday take the walk and be a pilgrim in Galicia.

  12. Doc says:

    Thanks Tai for sharing your feedback on the second pilgrimage post. I walked the first time with friends, but the second time, I walked alone. And thanks for your comments on my video walkthough. I held a camera up as I walked into a village early in the morning so that you can see and hear the sounds of roosters crowing and the villagers in the fields, including the sound of the smiling villager driving his tractor toward me on that narrow path leading out of the town. What I didn’t show you was how I had to turn and head back into the village so he could squeeze his wide load of hay through the narrow path and entrance. It was one of many treasured moments on that path. I am glad to read that you are hoping to take this pilgrimage. Check my new blog on pilgrimages at for more blog posts on previous and upcoming pilgrimages and keep in touch with me via email for more information. Buen Camino!

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