IIC & CIC — Indianapolis Spiritual Trail

Ian McIntosh, La Concha — Newsletter of the American Pilgrims on the Camino, September 2019, pp. 10-11
Members of the Hoosier Chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino join the local Song Squad for a memorable dip in the White River while walking the spiritual trail. Photo by Ian McIntosh, Indianapolis, IN.

Every city should have a spiritual trail where people can walk in nature in a spirit of camaraderie.

The Indianapolis Spiritual Trail, which is open year-round for self-guided or themed group walks, was founded in 2015 as a project of the Indianapolis Center for Interfaith Cooperation. Inspired by the Camino de Santiago, the spiritual trail provides an opportunity for the spirit of the Camino to come alive in our community.

The original idea was to foster a climate where people from different faith groups could unite around shared understandings of joy, hope, and faith. Like the Camino, our Spiritual trail supports journeys of meditation, awareness and personal growth. Whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome!

Themed walks have been organized around a range of topics like freedom (in partnership with AmeriCorps), compassion (guided by a leading philanthropist) and love and common decency (in collaboration with the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library). Perhaps the most memorable walk was led by a group of singers gathered in the sparkling shallow waters of the White River singing their favorite songs. Members of the Hoosier Chapter of the American Pilgrims on the Camino have been regular participants in all these walks.

The spiritual trail begins at the Indiana Interchurch Center, where pilgrims have the chance to walk the outdoor, Chartres style labyrinth. It then continues on a series of paths along the Central Canal Towpath and the White River. Walkers often unload a burden by throwing a rock into the fast-moving river, or they tie a colorful ribbon around a tree as they make a wish or give thanks.

American Pilgrims on the Camino member Ian McIntosh founded the Indianapolis Spiritual Trail. He is second from left in this photo, with other members of the Hoosier Chapter on a recent walk on the trail.

Often, we share with the group a story of importance. On Saturday, June 29, a particularly hot summer morning, 16 walkers, including eight who had completed the Camino, shared stories about the camaraderie that typifies the Camino experience. The main message was “the Camino provides.” Walkers spoke of cherished moments and of memorable places and beautiful people from around the world who had been vital parts of their journey. Most of all, they talked about the transformative dimension of this pilgrimage and how they would never be the same again.

On the Indianapolis Spiritual Trail, pilgrims have a chance to keep the spirit of the Camino alive and the fires of community burning.

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