The ‘Joie’ of the Joëlette
No Right Way?
People often remark that there is no right way to travel the Camino. This is certainly true. Most pilgrims, of course, travel by foot. There is something therapeutic, even mystical, about putting one foot in front of another for miles and miles. The steady cadence, sounded out by the crunch of gravel under your boots, is hypnotizing. These days many pilgrims bike the Camino; others travel by horse or even mule. Not surprisingly I guess, I’ve heard some question the authenticity of these ‘alternative’ means, but to me that seems to miss the point.
We are excited to expand our pilgrimage this summer with the use of a Joëlette. The Joëlette is a one-wheeled trekking chair that we will use to assist our friend, Gabriel, along the Way. In contrast to a conventional wheelchair, this chair can traverse almost any terrain. Where a wheelchair would get bogged down in shin-deep mud, the Joëlette can slog right through the muck. It can navigate the rockiest of trails, cross streams, and comfortably make it down skree-covered descents.
What is most remarkable to me, though, is the fact that by its very nature, the Joëlette reinforces the notion that pilgrimage essentially involves community. The Joëlette makes it possible for Gabriel to make his pilgrimage along the Camino, but he will do it as one member of a community that includes Jeff, Daryl, Nick, Shelby, Jenn, Caleb, Jacob, Kym, and Susan, all pilgrimaging together. In fact it will take as many as five of us at any one time to help Gabriel on the steeper ascents and descents over the Pyrenees and beyond Pamplona. Go, Team!