10 Rules of the pilgrim: #8 Rely on yourself

France. Road to Saint Jean Pied de Port. View on Pyrenees.

Leaving home, I was counting on people. I’ve counted on people and a bit on God. After all, He won’t let pilgrim dye. After all, people will help. After all … After all … We often rely on others in our pilgrimage and life. Sometimes on fate or God’s intervention. “I bought a backpack of 15 liters, but I’ll go full Camino – 800 km. It’ll work out somehow. God will take care of me“- I’ve seen such confessions somewhere. “I have no money, but people will support me, after all it’s God’s way” – that’s somewhere else again.

Camino teaches responsibility. It’s a therapy for relying too much on others, often such attitude, that turns into a set of demands or in a grudge against people, when one meet a refusal. Such relying may easily become a childish usurpation, that I am entitled to this or that, because … I am a pilgrim.

I know such irresponsible and demanding approach from my own experience, because… I was such a person to some extent. “How could this priest sent me out? How could these people…?” –  Hastily I formed negative remarks and opinions in my mind.

And yet – we are entitled to nothing. And yet – by presenting such attitudes, i.e. not relying on ourselves, but on others or on the world – we become, in fact, a burden to the people. A burden that shows up on the road to Santiago or somewhere in life.

So it’s ok to ask for help and enjoy receiving it. But we need to do everything, to be able to continue our pilgrimage without such help. Through the next day, week… Through the rain. Through sadness and hardship.

Then, we won’t be disturbed by people’s behavior. Because “we can do it” ourselves. Because we no longer hold others responsible for our fate, our “way”. Because we’re relying on ourselves. Only then we can fully see and appreciate gifts we receive. From God, from people, from the world. Because everything we get in life, is an unearned gift.

Then our pilgrimage starts to make sense, because it’s we, who setting it up, creating it, building it out from our pain, effort, resources. Then… we ourselves can become a gift for the others, that’s mean sometimes a helping hand, gesture, advice, something material that will help other people in their own struggle. And maybe it is the essence of the Camino, that precious gifts that pilgrims become for each other on the way to Saint. Jacob.

Counting on ourselves in connection with trusting God changes a man, because it changes the world. The world from the “world of taking” becomes the “world of giving“. Because in order to give, you have to give up – sacrifice to some extend – yourself. What for? To reach? What exactly? On Camino – Santiago de Compostela. In life… what we want to achieve, what we miss so much. Unless we head on only to the next bar, i.e. the date on the calendar with the inscription “tomorrow“. Pilgrims know, however, that this is only a temporary stop, a means to their goal, ultimately … to eternity.


Previous rules of the pilgrim:
#10 It’s never to late
#9 Trust God

First six days of my pilgrimage:
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