The Camino de Santiago Experience of a Divine Word Missionary
(Part 3 of 5)
By Marlon Bobier Vargas SVD
The journey continues as Frater Marlon Bobier Vargas SVD walks El Camino de Santiago and absorbs the beauty of God’s creation. During the summertime, as many as 1,500 pilgrims reach the cathedral per day. In this third installment, Marlon ponders the impact of the journey.
Being an early riser gave me an advantage when I traveled as a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain. I am one who habitually wakes up early in the day and feels energetic.
On the pilgrimage, many seekers woke up early to begin walking before sunrise. On several consecutive mornings, our group began walking in the darkness of the cold morning. In predawn, we could not see our surrounding. I followed our lead, who carried a flashlight as a guide. I was scared walking alone in the dark.
I maintained a close proximity to my companion so I would not get lost in the middle of the forest. At one point, I did not notice that my group was far ahead of me. I missed the sign and lost the right path. I’m grateful to my fellow pilgrim who came back to find me. I did not want to be alone in darkness.
What I enjoyed most about beginning our walk early in the morning was the chance to witness the amusing first light in the sky before sunrise. I fell in love with the marvelous scenery as the sunlight gradually filled the sky. The horizon dramatically unfolded its beauty before my eyes.
It seemed like the fields, mountain, trees and animals rejoiced with the pilgrims. What a wonderful mystery nature is! The dynamics of nature teach us to journey out of darkness towards the light.
Some pilgrims came to the Camino with a weak faith. They were longing for God’s companionship and seeking direction in their faith life. One afternoon while attending Mass in a parish church, I was moved by a woman who began weeping upon hearing the Scripture reading. The tears that flowed down the woman’s face the moment she heard the Word of God reminded me how the sacred Scriptures serve as a guiding light and the comforting presence of God during dark moments.
During the Camino, pilgrims give themselves a chance to acknowledge and allow God to be more closely present to them. As Saint Arnold Janssen said, we know that we cannot solve all problems with the strength we now possess, but we hope that the dear God will grant us all that is necessary. For we know God is there, and we always know where we can find God, where God allows Himself to be found and is waiting for us.