Day 33, Arrived in Santiago, 20km

I have arrived! My only thought this morning was getting to Santiago. The skies cooperated with beautiful breaking clouds and blue skies. What a reunion with pilgrims who I met along the Way! What joy. What exhaustion. What peace. What a journey!

Of all the pilgrims I’ve reunited with in Santiago, they are all very happy. Joy is in the air, smiles abound.

It’s good to be here. Tears came as I stood outside the Cathedral. Tears came as I walked into the cathedral. Tears came as I sat. Tears came as the pilgrim worship took place. Tears came as I watched pilgrim after pilgrim arrive. All of us together. All of us pilgrims. All of us arriving.

Being in the cathedral brings me peace and quiet. I visited the relics of St. James and cried there too. It is indeed a holy place. Maybe it’s true – St. James has been waiting for me. I made it to Santiago but could not have done it alone. The community of pilgrims, the communion of saints, friends and family, God, and the power of the Way of St. James all guided me. There are so many unseen arrows that show me the way. I pray that I continue to open my eyes to the yellow arrows in my life.

During dinner as we all said cheers someone said, “Now the real Camino begins. Buen Camino!”

July 2023 —Cole Camp, Missouri

Fifteen years ago I set off to walk 500 miles over the course of 33 days. I’ve written about the Camino here and here, and also have one black, moleskin journal filled from that summer. Yet, years later I continue to unearth lessons from my time walking.

A few weeks after I arrived in Santiago, I started a year-long pastoral internship in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The fruit of the year came in claiming my call to serve as a pastor in the Lutheran church. This summer, too, I feel like I’m on the cusp of something new. I’ve been away from serving full time in the church for over six years; this coming fall both my children will be in school full time. The question comes: “What are you going to do with your time when the kids are at school?” With just one word (do) it feels like this new season must be one of throwing myself into working full time again. Yet, these last few years reflecting on vocation have taught me that it’s not so much what we do, but what kind of person we want to be. It’s asking questions of what do I love and what makes my heart sing. It’s reflecting on where the community has a need and what breaks my heart. It’s asking who am I in this season and in this particular place? And through it all, it’s trusting that God’s Spirit is with me nudging me along and whispering to me: You are loved no matter what.

Sometimes I wish I had a plan for how I’ll spend my days next fall, but then I realize that’s not the point of this life of faith. Pilgrimage along the Camino taught me to expect the unexpected. Life is about being open to where the Spirit leads. Life is about accepting the here and now. Life is about being present. I don’t have to have a plan, just one step, an open heart, and the God who goes with me.

If you’re wondering what’s next for you or are wrestling with how God is calling you forward, take it slow. Take one step and then another. For most of us, we’re not counting the miles to find a place to sleep for the night or limping from blisters. We’re not carrying all our possessions on our backs.

But we still walk. We still search. We still pray. We still stumble.

In putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, we’re walking not alone, not walking towards something or someone, but walking within the kingdom of God.

Buen Camino.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is a writer, pastor, wife, mother of two, and the co-author of The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years (Morehouse Publishing, March 2023). She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Missouri. When she’s not at the park with her children, walking around town, or tending to the garden, you can find her with a pen and paper. Or a good book and a cup of coffee. She believes in the power of words, unearthing the extraordinary in the ordinary, and encouraging others to follow their passions. Connect with her online at, on Instagram (@kknowlezeller), or her Substack Newsletter.

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