by Roy W. Howard
Parson’s Porch and Publishing Company, Cleveland, Tenn. 72 pages
Reviewed by Theresa Fersch
As a fellow pilgrim, I was thrilled to read “Walking in Love.” Roy Howard (who is also the Outlook’s book editor) articulately and exquisitely depicts life on the Camino through photographs and narration. His story takes readers with him up and over the Pyrenees Mountains, across Spain, through dozens of quaint villages and all the way to the coast as he traverses the 500-mile ancient pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago. Each year 200,000 people hike the Camino and yet every person has individual reasons for doing so. Some make the walk because they are at a crossroads and searching for answers, some are searching for God and some are seeking forgiveness or even love. Others make the journey simply for the adventure of it all. Howard’s reasons were spiritual in nature, which is evident by his daily prayers, songs and reflections.
His photographs transport readers to this beautiful and almost magical trail where pilgrims come together from all over the world to hike. A pilgrim’s body, mind and soul are put to the test as she passes through wheat fields, vineyards, farms, poppy fields, cities and small villages. Howard shares photos from the most significant parts of his Camino and writes about his adventures all along the way. His story focuses on the importance of the people one meets on the Camino and how they shaped conversations and perspective.
We come from all walks of life and all faiths and yet we all have commonalities. And because we are all pilgrims, we share that common bond. What’s striking about his work is that readers can follow along as he encourages and inspires fellow pilgrims through meaningful, spiritual discourse. He also talks about how we are often encouraged to seize the day, but on the Camino we are taught to receive the day. A pilgrim has little control over whom he will meet or what adventures will be experienced. We must have faith in our journey. Howard’s faith in the process and ability to “receive” each day as it comes is inspiring.
I had the opportunity to meet the author in the middle of rural Spain while on my own pilgrimage and it brings me great pleasure to reminisce while enjoying his stories about the people we met along the way, birds that serenaded us across the plains, unique albergues (hostels) we stayed in, kind locals who aided our journey and, of course, deeply enriching relationships that were formed between pilgrims.
It is difficult to capture the power of the Camino – the love, the compassion, the spirit – all of the qualities that make this journey such a unique and gratifying experience.
Howard’s book offers readers a peek at what it’s like to be a pilgrim of the Camino de Santiago. Whether you plan to walk the Camino yourself or if you are a pilgrim at heart, you can experience the Camino from the comfort of your home and be inspired to walk with God with an open mind and an open heart. The Camino was the most extraordinary adventure of my life and I am happy to not only have another pilgrim’s account of the journey, but now I can relive my days on the Camino whenever I’d like.
Theresa Fersch is the author of “Sunrise in Spain: Finding the Good Life Hiking the Camino de Santiago.” She lives in Hollis, New Hampshire.