Today, we are hearing a lovely reflection from one of CAFOD’s supporters, Una O’Kane, as she has taken on the wonderful opportunity of walking the Camino trail.
I started this Camino needing a few weeks away from the rat race of life, to appreciate every little bit of the beauty of my surroundings, to challenge myself emotionally and physically which I hoped would in turn enrich my spirituality. It has exceeded these expectations but with it, I have been overwhelmed by the blessing of choice.
A few days ago a cousin suggested I add to the mileage for Share the Journey. I wanted this to be very meaningful for me, as I hadn’t thought of it on the beginning. It started out as a very personal venture, and still remains that way. But the day after I received that message I committed to dedicating every kilometre to the refugees who have to make an unfathomable journey with no sense of choice.
I chose to walk this walk. To do so many kilometres in a day, and to walk in rain and blazing sunshine, which in turn have given me blisters, and aches and pains, in parts I didn’t know my body had. I chose to create that pain and walk with it. I chose the boots for my feet, and the walking sandals that would give them relief – deliberating over what would be best to protect my feet, and prevent any pain. I had that choice, and that time to research footwear and a suitable rucksack, and time to get my body used to it before starting my journey.
I chose exactly what to take with me, packing everything I would need. I chose to hike some coastal cliffs which took me to the edge of my fear, knowing it was only me, I had to get to the other side and with walking sticks to support me. And a fellow pilgrim who gave me encouragement and showed unlimited patience in keeping me together. I chose when to go, which suited well in the job I’m fortunate to have, with the holidays I’m so lucky to choose what to do with, as I wish. My job also financed my journey. I choose when to stop walking each day, based on where I can sleep.
Each day is a lottery to get a bed for the night, but there are always options if I don’t get my first or second choice. I still get a safe and secure place to sleep each night. I choose when to stop, when to eat and what to eat. I choose when to go home and when I get home, I know exactly what I’m going to – the home I chose for myself. I was overwhelmed by the stories of child refugees when we were reflecting on Share the Journey in school. But in doing my journey, every challenge has been recompensed by the fact that everything is my choice and it is a gift. For everyone that doesn’t have a choice and needs to travel in unimaginable ways, with no warning, little by way of food, security and clothing, and with children, elderly or sick people, with no definite place to go to, or how survival will happen when there, I think of you with every niggle or difficulty I face. I wish you safety and security – without the need to leave the place you call ‘home’. And I hope for a time when everyone has the gift of choice.
People from across England and Wales have been walking around the world with us as part of our Share the Journey campaign. We are now on our fifth lap! If you still haven’t logged your walk or signed your Share the Journey action card, there is still time! By walking you will send a powerful message to world leaders that they too need to step up and protect the rights of people on the move.