On the first night in St Jean Pied de Port I walked around the town to get a feel for it and to shop for provisions for my first day of walking beginning in the morning, the 27k trek across the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles. Then on my way back to the municipal albergue (pilgrim hostel) I noticed the church and I decided to enter. I sat down with my shopping bag beside me just absorbing the atmosphere. The church itself was small and was beautifully lit with candles. There were lots of people walking up and down, talking, taking pictures, lighting candles and saying prayers. After a while I felt quite moved and realised that I was going to make clear my camino intention here.
I decided that I would walk up and light a candle as part of my intention ritual. There were, perhaps oddly, a lot of different types of candles to choose from and some of them were named ‘pilgrim candles’. However I found myself drawn not to the pilgrim candles but rather the long stemmed thin white candles and so I chose one of those. By now the whole experience felt very sacred and as I placed my candle I closed my eyes to find my true internal intention. I didn’t know what the answer was going to be, when I had thought about why I was doing the camino up to that point I might have said for stillness, connection, unity…but the word that arose loud and clear was ‘sincerity’. With tears flowing down my cheeks I promised that I would walk the camino with sincerity. With that any other concerns I felt were gone.
The clarity and certainty of my intention towards the camino experience came back to me many times along the way. In times of doubt, confusion, disconnection, loneliness and struggle I reminded myself of my intention to be sincere and so I could feel more accepting of the emotions I really didn’t want to experience, they had their value and I needed to experience them too and it was sincere to do so.