Carbondale Couple Chronicles the 
Camino de Santiago 2

Former Chamber President Ted Reed Completes 1000 Km Meditative Hike

On November 7, Ted Reed, a former Carbondale Chamber of Commerce president, returned home after walking the 600-mile Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrimage route in Spain. Inspired by a 2010 Martin Sheen movie called “The Way,” Reed spread the ashes of his old friend Karen Anthony DeRiemer along the route, while also raising money to support her disabled son Christian, who suffers from a rare form of muscular dystrophy.

During his two-month walk, Reed blogged about his experiences. Most evenings, after hiking 12 to 14 miles, he sent iPhone messages to his wife Carla. “Using an iPhone as a word processor and sender of pictures is far from ideal, at least for me!” Ted commented. “Can’t tell you how many times I deleted text or thought something was sent and it was not.” Even so, Carla published 23 posts from Ted on the website ChristianAndTed.org.

Beginning on September 6, Reed followed the “Camino Frances” through northern Spain, arriving in Santiago de Compostela, the city that marks the end of most pilgrimages, on October 23. Pilgrims who complete the 1000-kilometer trek receive a diploma called a “Compostela” at the Office of the Peregrinos in the Cathedral in Santiago. After waiting for more than an hour to receive his Compostela, Reed noted, “It was interesting…to observe the others in line with the entire range of emotions from quiet calmness, to enthusiastic joy to streams of tears.” The officials, on the other hand, were “very impersonal” and “more interested in talking to their fellow workers than with the pilgrims.”

Reed made many friends while walking the Camino, and in Santiago, he reconnected with Claudio, a friend from Argentina. Reed wrote, “We spent awhile catching up and then went into the Cathedral for the 7:30 mass… Just before the actual service, a very jolly nun did a ‘Sing Along With Mitch / Follow the Bouncing Ball’ instruction for everyone to learn the words that were later sung as refrains during the service.”

“During the actual service, when the Cathedral was filled with the voices of 999 people, it was so inspirational, even if you did not understand the words,” he wrote. (Reed said that he didn’t ruin the sound by singing himself.) The service ended with the swinging of an incense-filled thurible called the Botafumiero that arcs to a height of 20 meters, held by a pulley that was installed in 1604. Reed found the Botafumiero ritual “thrilling” and the Cathedral “beautiful beyond words.”

After Santiago, Reed continued on to Muxia, a town bordering the Atlantic Ocean, reaching it on October 29. The town’s name means “end of the world,”  and so it seemed before Columbus found the Americas.

Reed, a practicing Buddhist who traveled the ancient Christian path as a walking meditation and logged more than 700 miles counting sight-seeing side trips, reflected, “I have now walked into Spain from France and walked to the furthest western point of land. There is a real sense of accomplishment, but I realize that every day is another day of my journey through life. Many say that your true Camino begins at the end of the walk and I believe that is true for me.”

At Muxia, he wrote, “I can’t tell you how meaningful and remarkable this trip has been for me. I am glad I did the blog as I will have it to refresh my memory on the details. The entire journey seems like a dream now that it is coming to a close… Travel for me has always been an important part of my life and as much as I love other places and people, I am always reminded that, despite its problems, the Good Old United States is still a wonderful place to call home.”

Ted, who is 69, and who has grown a white beard during his long trek, says, “I have been told by several people along the way that I ‘Walk really fast for an old guy!’”

Carla, an artist who has published dozens of online photos and posts during Ted’s pilgrimage, writes, “As Ted’s return approaches, I am amazed at how quickly the time has passed! Ted has accomplished his goal and has had a truly amazing and meaningful once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I am so happy for him and can’t wait to hear all the stories. Although my time back in Carbondale was not quite as exciting, I enjoyed myself immensely, working in my studio, seeing friends and family and just being on my own for awhile. Now I am ready to have Ted back home again, beard and all!”