MEET Sue Kenney OUR SPIRITUAL GUIDE ON THE CAMINO
She was downsized, without any warning.
“I was completely shocked,” says Kenney. “I knew I had to do something. It was important for me to figure out what I was doing in my life.”
Kenney had seen a television program about walking the Camino and decided an 800 km walk might help her figure out what to do next. “Walking is meditative and walking forward while thinking lets you leave things behind,” she says. “You are able to let go of things.”
Spending six or eight hours a day in nature can also be healing. “There is freedom and joy in being outside,” Kenney says. In Japan, there is even a practice called shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, that believes trees have a direct healing effect on the mind and body.
“Just being around trees puts you in an optimum state of mind. You think more clearly and things come up that you never thought about before.”
Since that first walk in 2001, Kenney has encountered a lot of trees along the Camino. She has walked the trail 25 times, including one particular route that she has travelled 17 times – but she says no journey is ever the same. “It is a different journey because of the people you are with, and how you have changed,” Kenney explains. “It’s very organic.”
Travelling to the Camino with the Divine Destination Collection
This May, Kenney will be joining the Divine Destination Collection as they travel to Spain to walk the Camino. As the group’s spiritual guide, she will share her experiences with the group and give them some tips on what to look out for along the way – but at the same time, she will be careful not to divulge too much about the journey ahead. “I don’t want to tell them too much, or tell them what to experience,” she says. “I’m not creating their journey for them.”
Although most people tend to focus on the beautiful Spanish countryside when thinking about walking the Camino, Kenney says this trip is about people. “We are all being called to walk together in a group we haven’t chosen,” she says. “We’ve been brought together to experience this trip as one, as well as an individual.”
While walking the Camino can be a physical challenge, it is not only about testing yourself, or pushing your limits, says Kenney. You are walking in honour of the other people who are walking the Camino, as well as those who have travelled the Camino before.
In fact, while you walk the Camino you collect stamps in a special passport called the Credencial del Peregrino, as proof that you have walked the distance necessary to obtain your official Compostela or Certificate at the Pilgrims Office in Santiago. With this certificate, you are written into the history book of the Camino and join the millions of pilgrims who have made this special journey.
When is it best for you to walk the Camino?
Like Kenney, many people make their first trip to the Camino after a life-changing experience. Some make the journey after losing someone close to them and are lost about how to carry on. Walking the Camino is a way to honour their loved one.
But the journey can also be a way to celebrate a special occasion or anniversary.
For women, a milestone like turning 50 means their children are finished school and now it’s time for them to do something for themselves. Since the Divine Destination Collection takes care of all the arrangements, they can really focus on what they want to get out of the journey.
But no matter the reason, people just seem to know when they are ready to take the journey, says Kenney.
A barefoot journey
Not only does Kenney love to walk the Camino, but she also loves to walk it barefoot!
“Some people call me the crazy barefoot lady, but I’ve always loved to walk barefoot.” she says. “It makes me feel stronger, and more aligned.
“I especially like to walk barefoot on the forest floor. It’s the perfect moment to reconnect with nature. It’s a powerful experience”
While the Divine Destination Collection group won’t be required to take off their shoes, Kenney will walk some of the way barefoot, and help train those who want to try a portion of the Camino barefoot.
“It starts with walking barefoot around the house and doing things outside like gardening while barefoot. It’s important to strengthen your ankles,” she says.
But whether they walk barefoot or not, Kenney guarantees the group is going to have fun.
“They are going to experience something special and be part of a story that has been passed on.”
To learn more about Sue Kenney and her adventures on the Camino, you can visit her website at www.suekenney.ca
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