When the end is the beginning

The smoking thurible filled with incense swooped through the space overhead and ritualized the end of the Camino walk for Carol Vaccariello. But it wasn’t the end for her she said. “What I learned from this amazing experience is that the end is the beginning.”

In the recent Enrichment Series at Mount St. Benedict monastery Carol shared her experience of the Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James, the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in north-western Spain. Over the years the Camino has developed into a vibrant hub of Spanish culture that attracts pilgrims from all over the world.

“I really couldn’t answer the question as to why I took this journey until it was finished. I finally understood that it was meant to get me ready for the next part of my life.”

In a month’s time Carol walked 787 kilometers from France to Santiago. Along the way she made friends, experienced kindness, felt the Spirit and saw beauty everywhere. “It was a very spiritual community,” she said when describing the people with whom she shared the walk. “It was all about helping each other and getting along.”

Dressed in some of the original clothes she wore on her Camino and wearing the seashell that marked her as a pilgrim, Carol told story after story of what it was like to be at peace even in the midst of physical discomfort. She shared the accomplishment she felt when she received her compostela certificate written in Latin, and confirming the completion of the pilgrimage. “My relationship with the Erie Benedictines also gave me access to a Latin scholar and thanks to Sister Roberta Lavin (d. 2/24/2017) my compostela has been translated from Latin to English and I treasure it.”

Carol also shared how the Camino experience told her to write a book. The Lion of God Archangel Ari'El is said to be a surprising book with a surprising ending. In it Carol shares ten true personal encounters with Angels that are meant to help you wake up the Angels in your life.

The Reverend Dr. Carol Vaccariello, an oblate with the Erie Benedictines, is an ordained minister serving Disciple of Christ, United Church of Christ and Creation Spirituality communities. She is a spiritual coach, retreat leader, captivating speaker and storyteller who has studied and taught on six continents.