I have read four Camino books in the last month, all addressing the Camino in different ways. Two of the books are by Australian authors, I am God’s Heart by Marianne Bailey and A Slow Walk Across Spain by Karen Manwaring (highly recommended as a prep guide). The others are I’m Off Then: Losing and finding myself on the Camino de Santiago by German Comedian Hape Kerkeling, and the recently released Walking with Stones: A Spir- itual Odyssey on the Pilgrimage to Santiago by William Schmidt.
Walking with Stones was released earlier this year in February: I am here reviewing the e-book version. William Schmidt is a University Professor from Chicago. He is a counsellor and psychotherapist. His pilgrimage to Santiago along the Camino Frances is driven by his marriage breakdown. He takes us on very personal and spiritual journey and shares the deep feelings he unearths along the way. In a very honest recount of his Camino we are presented with many of the personal introspections that we find on our own journeys.
This book breaks the trend of many, not just recounting the external journey, the culture and the history but rather focusses on the personal growth and the wonderful personal encounters along the way. Don’t worry he does discuss the physical journey, the effects on the body, the challenges, and the places and characters, but we are also taken on a very personal level journey with wry in- sights. William has a spiritual link through the stones he finds and discards along the way. He draws on this to explore his drives, finds peace within himself and retrospection. This approach may not be for all, but it is his tool to draw a perspective on life before and after.
If this all sounds like I enjoyed the book, you would be right, from the suggestion of guidebooks having bed-to-bathroom ratios, to conducting the choir of snorers, to discussing how various religious services do not always embrace the humanity of people, he presents some interesting observations.
For me, this book gelled at a very personal level. William beautifully described the spiritual passage, and what makes a pilgrimage. Recommended.