"A marvelous reflective meditation!" "The ending is superb."
At 63 years of age, Terence Callery sets out on a personal quest to conquer the grueling 500 mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage which ends at the tomb of St. James the Apostle in northwest Spain. After months of preparation, including daily three-hour training walks on coastal Maine roads near his home, he arrives in the spectacular Pyrenees Mountains.
By the time he reaches Pamplona on the third day of his seven-week spiritual journey, he empties his backpack of several pounds excess belongings and begins the pilgrim’s fearless exercise of also shedding psychological baggage along the way. The author spins the riveting tale of two odysseys taken in tandem; one is the story of a walking meditation where he learns to live more in “the infinite moment” and the other is a well-researched and detailed account of the geography, history, and culture that he encounters on the Route Frances of the Camino de Santiago. He finds his fellow pilgrims to be profoundly open and the impactful and often humorous dialogue with his walking companions acts as a microscope revealing the intimate inner universal voyage they are taking together. He writes of the deep sense of place he experiences as he walks along Roman roads, sleeps in a 12th century monastery, visits massive Gothic cathedrals, and walks in the foot steps of Charlemagne, Dante, Queen Isabella and Saint Francis of Assisi.
By the time he reaches the Rioja wine-growing region, he has learned to Chi walk. Walking correctly aligned and in balance, he slows down his pace to conserve energy so that he can walk all day. The author is taking a decidedly Zen approach to Christianity’s most important pilgrimage. The Camino becomes a metaphor for life’s journey and he begins to think of this approach as “Slow Camino”. “It is not a race to the end but rather it is about finding the ‘Easter eggs’ along the way.” And so he takes time to stop and to visit the magnificent Cathedral in Leon and Gaudi’s Bishop’s Palace in Astorga. He gets off the Camino route to find regional foods such as octopus-- and to find upgrades in hotel, pension and casas rurales accommodations.
Finally after the difficult walking through the wheat fields of Spain’s bread basket, he arrives in the mountains of Galicia, his favorite section of the journey. Mr. Callery was educated by Benedictine monks before going to Yale where he received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. He had a long career in Maine's aquaculture industry before starting an alpaca farm.