Walking the Camino de Santiago

Walking the Camino de Santiago

Elizabeth DeVore

Laura Stockbridge is a First Church member and inquirer candidate pursuing the position of Commissioned Ruling Elder within the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery. This past summer she walked about 76 miles along a route of the renowned pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, in northwest Spain.

Laura was inspired to walk the Camino de Santiago when she heard a pastor speak about it at a Presbyterian Women Synod Gathering in 2016 in Fort Worth. This pastor spoke about feeling as if she had been “literally walking alongside God as she walked in meditative prayer”. This put the desire in Laura’s heart to seek out this journey for herself.

The Camino de Santiago, or way of St. James, is a network of ancient pilgrim routes in Spain. They come together at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Today’s pilgrims can start their journey at a variety of different points on the route, just as the original pilgrims would have done from their own homes.

Laura walked a small portion of the Camino Frances route. She began in Sarria and walked with eight other women whom she’d connected with on the internet beforehand. To prepare, she physically did lots of test walks and hikes with all of her gear. She also spent time in prayer and thought as she sought guidance for an open heart for the experience.

”I learned that my ‘limitations aren’t weaknesses, they’re just limitations.‘”
– Laura Stockbridge

With a journey like the Camino that is both pushing you physically and spiritually there are bound to be some challenges. Laura said that the time preceding her trip may have been harder than any of the walking because of the fear and doubt that crept in. Once she began, Laura was surprised by how fast she got her “Camino legs.” The first day started out rough with a steep climb but each day got better. A few days in she even found herself wanting to go on strolls to take in the scenery after dinner even after walking six to ten miles that day. 

She spent a lot of time in prayerful thought and God revealed himself in the simplest of ways, giving encouragement exactly when it was needed. “Just keep walking” was the answer God kept speaking to Laura about anything she was grappling with on the Camino.

Laura Stockbridge, second from right, with a few of the women she met while walking along the Camino de Santiago in 2023.

Along the journey, Laura made many meaningful relationships with the eight women that she walked with. Their uniqueness of gifts and personalities were perfectly orchestrated in the way that only God can. Along the way at each lodging she had special exchanges with others on the journey.

She noted that “there was never any anger or bitterness…people took care of each other whether friend or stranger and regardless of language barriers”. Laura said some of the best parts of her trip were “to see and experience that with God’s help, the things you think are out of reach can be achieved … the people I met along the way who were just wonderful, and … unplugging for 11 days with no TV – that was glorious!”

Walking the Camino de Santiago, Laura Stockbridge visited historic sites along the way.

Laura says she would absolutely go on the Camino de Santiago again and hopes to in another few years. Her advice to others who may want to go would be to take time to enjoy the journey and not rush. She recommends spending a couple days sightseeing beforehand to give your body time to adjust. Maybe learn some phrases in Spanish but she says “mostly, don’t overthink it–book a flight and go!” Laura would love to meet for coffee and speak more about the Camino with anyone that is interested.

About the author: Elizabeth DeVore is a lifelong member of First Church Tulsa. She loves being engaged in the body of Christ and growing with her church family. She currently serves as an elder, is involved in Pathfinder middle school ministries and a Young Adult K Group leader.

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