Dear Britton.

I am in Arkansas camping for the next three weeks. The first two weeks I am solo. Grandmother will be joining me for the last week. I hope to use this time to do some mountain hiking in preparation for what we will encounter in Spain. I also find that the solitary time puts me better in touch with my thoughts.

The view from Magazine Mountain, the highest point in Arkansas.

It occurred to me that I should try to reflect on our coming Camino as I might have when I was 15 years old. Perhaps then I can better anticipate your excitement… and more importantly, your anxieties.

The world of a 15-year-old consists almost entirely of school, friends, extracurricular activities, and family. The world of a 72-year-old is immensely broader.

The Camino is a walking meditation. During the periods of silence our thoughts are necessarily drawn in different directions. Mine will likely find focus on where I am and where I have been on life’s journey. You may find your thoughts drawn to where you are and what the future may hold for you.

It occurs to me that my 15-year-old self might have been concerned about what I would miss during the coming summer. No summer job, no time with friends, no time with my siblings, and of course, no time with mom. I recently heard this referred to as FOMO, the fear of missing out.

Switching to my 72-year-old brain I ask you to take what I say as a matter of faith: If you were to spend this summer in Kansas City it would be just another summer, hardly distinguishable from any other. However, our weeks together on the Camino de Santiago, hiking 525 miles across Spain, may forge indelible shared memories that we will both hold dear in our hearts for the rest of our lives.

Peace Britton. Love, Grandpa.


Dear Britton.

In a little more than 10 weeks we depart for France and Spain! There is plenty of time yet to fine tune your pack to less than 18 pounds. At 15 years old and in shape from football, wrestling, and now lacrosse, you may not need to train for the 525-mile hike, but I do. There is, however, an important task that you should start to consider:

At the highest point (4,940 feet) on the French Route of the Camino de Santiago is a house-sized pile of stones sprouting an overlarge telephone pole that is capped with a small iron cross. This is known as the Cruz de Ferro (the Iron Cross).

Tradition holds that pilgrims on the Camino carry a small stone along the journey and in prayerful meditation deposit the stone at the foot of this cross.

The stone represents one or more of the little burdens we unconsciously accumulate in life. These are not the big intentional obligations such as education, work, family, or finances, but the smaller ones that we gather without thought. Anger, resentment, envy, jealousy, to name just a few.

At 15 years old you have few of these weighing you down. At 72 years old, I have collected a truckload!

Just as we are called to be mindful of these hidden burdens while walking the Camino, so should we each seek a stone that resonates with us, a metaphor of those burdens which weigh down the spirit.

The stone should be small, barely noticeable in your pack, just like the troubles we unconsciously carry. But consider the emotional weight during our lives. There are over one million strides taken along the Camino. If the stone you select weighs only 2 ounces, then that insignificant weight carried each step of “The Way” represents over 125,000 pounds!

The stone should be attractive in a way that makes it not easy to abandon, even though it is just a rock. Similarly, we convince ourselves that we are justified in our anger, resentments, spite. It is a human failing, an uncomfortable acknowledgement, that we are responsible for our own feelings. Justified or not, we are not benefited by harboring these sentiments, yet it is difficult to let them go.

Good luck in your hunt for that special stone, and for the deeper search for the peace that comes from the release of the burdens that it represents.

Love, Grandpa.

PS. The prayerful meditation at the foot of the Cruz de Ferro often takes form in these words:

“Lord, may this stone, a symbol of my efforts on the Pilgrimage that I lay at the foot of the Savior’s cross, one day weigh the balance in favor of my good deeds when the deeds of my life are judged. Let it be so, Amen.”


Bursting with enthusiasm upon our return from Spain in 2013, Christine and I were passionate to spread the message of the Camino in Kansas City. We founded the local group that would formally become the Kansas City Chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino (KCAPOC). As time and other responsibilities redirected our focus we withdrew from active participation in the group.

Fast forward to March and we received an invitation for Britton and me to be recognized for our coming hike across Spain and to participate in the KCAPOC monthly Pilgrim’s Hike.

On March 9th we joined members of the group for a Pilgrim’s Blessing and Shell Ceremony. Along with 13 other “pilgrims” who would be walking at various times this year to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, we received scallop shells, a group blessing, and the good wishes of the larger membership. This shell is the symbol of a pilgrim on the Camino.

Britton and I are joined by Doctor Doug for the group recital of the Pilgrim’s Blessing.

Britton receives his Camino scallop shell, the symbol of a Pilgrim on the Camino, from Maggie.

Britton and I stand recognized along with 13 other Pilgrims who will be walking the Camino at various times this year.

KCAPOC has grown! There are now more than 200 active members, nearly 40 of which assembled on the cold Saturday morning for the hike in the woods of Overland Park, Kansas.

Nearly 40 Kansas City area pilgrims gather for a blessing, shell ceremony, and hike in Johnson County Kansas.

Christine and I are joined in reunion by dear friends Maggie and her husband, Dr Doug. We first met Maggie on the Camino in 2013.

This was grandson Britton’s first experience being embraced by the kinship of Camino Pilgrimage. It is just the beginning.

Peace Everyone! Pete


In 2022 my posts to this site from the Portuguese Camino took the form of open letters home. These were well received and provided me with a natural, conversational, way to communicate that hinted at the relationship that Christine and I share. I was writing to her, yet aware of the larger audience. A side benefit for me was that I felt her presence as I penned each word. It was a relief from the shadow of being alone.

This coming June my 15-year-old grandson Britton and I will depart for 6 weeks in France and Spain. Life and fate willing, we will be hiking the 500+ mile “French Route” of the Camino de Santiago. This will be the longest time that I have spent away from Christine and the longest spent with any of our grandchildren. It will be the longest that he has spent apart from his mother and siblings. Britton is one of three surviving quadruplets. He has been with brother Simon and sister Delaney 7 months longer than he has taking breath in life. (Their births came very early, and they were very tiny.) Think about it. There is also his 6-year-old sister, Lennon, who will certainly feel his absence.

I have no doubt that he is up to the physical challenges. Britton is nearly 6 feet tall and is a muscular 190 pounds. However, the trials for both of us go beyond the physical requirements of walking many miles, day after day. We are separated by 58 years and 2 generations. He must learn and adjust to my peculiarities and I to his.

It is my hope that Britton might contribute an occasional paragraph to his grandmother and mother, giving insight to his own unique perspectives. However, recalling the focuses of my own teenage years I will not hold my breath.

Peace Everyone. Pete