On Tuesday, June 4 at 10 a.m., in Skidompha Library’s Porter Meeting Hall for Chats with Champions guest Peter Kinney will describe his walk on the Camino de Santiago in Europe.
Kinney has lived in the Damariscotta area for 46 years. One of his favorite pastimes has always been walking local trails and hiking in the mountains of Maine. Approaching retirement from his last job at a sawmill in Searsmont, he considered finally undertaking the “long walk” that he had looked forward to throughout his working life.
The Appalachian Trail seemed like too much of a commitment of time and money, but he had seen Emilio Estevez’s 2010 movie “The Way” and liked the idea of a pilgrimage as an escape from his routine and take the time to consider his options for the future. Consulting a copy of John Brierley’s guide to the most popular route, the Camino Frances, which traverses northern Spain, Kinney thought that walking 500 miles, alone, in a country where he didn’t speak the language would be a great launch into the golden years.
An ancient network of pilgrim routes throughout Europe leads to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela and the legendary remains of the apostle St. James. Millions of Europeans of all classes walked the camino during the Middle Ages as an act of devotion, penance, absolution, or as a cure for illness. There has been a resurgent interest in the camino since the 1980s, and in 2017, more than 327,000 pilgrims registered at the Pilgrim’s Reception Office in Santiago.
Along with the hundreds of other pilgrims from all over the world that he walked with, the Camino de Santiago took Kinney over two mountain ranges, and through Basque country, the vineyards of Rioja, the arid Meseta, the Celtic region of Galicia, and the cities of Pompaloma, Burgos, and Leon, and scores of medieval towns and villages, often on roads and bridges built by the Romans. The centuries-old cathedrals and churches he visited daily and where he attended masses were incredibly beautiful. Days of walking outside, prayer and contemplation, along with the camaraderie contributed to an unexpectedly rewarding growth in faith.
Even as he prepared for the trip, Kinney was surprised by the number of people in the Midcoast area who are familiar with the Camino de Santiago and who either knew someone who had done it or wanted to. He hopes this presentation will encourage and inform anyone contemplating a walk on the camino.
Chats with Champions is a free community offering. For more information, call 563-5513 or go to skidompha.org.