On my first night in St Jean Pied de Port I walked around to get a feel of the town and to shop for provisions for the 27k trek across the Pyrenees in the morning. Then on my way back to the municipal albergue (pilgrim hostel) I noticed the church and I decided to enter. I sat with my shopping beside me just absorbing the atmosphere within the small church, beautifully lit with tall, thin, white candles. It was busy with lots of people moving around, taking pictures, lighting candles, talking and praying. After a while I felt quite moved emotionally and realised I was going to make clear my Camino intention.
Although I didn’t know what my intention was, I decided to walk to the altar to light a candle to begin my intention ritual. There were, perhaps oddly, a lot of different types of candles to choose from and some of them were named ‘pilgrim candles’. However I found myself drawn not to the pilgrim candles but rather the long-stemmed, thin, white candles and I chose one of those. By now the whole experience felt very sacred and as I placed my candle I closed my eyes to find my true intention. The word ‘sincerity’ arose with clarity from within. With tears flowing down my cheeks I made a commitment to let sincerity guide me along the way.
In times of doubt, confusion, disconnection and loneliness I reminded myself of my intention. That guiding principle helped me to endure the many, many painful struggles.