Blisters of privilege, prayers of choice

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My blistered feet entering an allegedly healing pool.

They were sometimes like a hot knife plunged into my lower extremities, at other times, simply walking on broken glass. My blisters during the first two weeks of my Camino were horrible. One day, Sue and I entered the town of Villafranca Montes de Oca and I simply had to stop walking. It was too much, I could not take the pain. What happened next is a long story for another day, just let it suffice to say, my feet were wrecked. Would I be able to continue my Camino? (Spoiler alert for new readers, thanks be to God, I did.)

With nearly every blistered step I took, I was aware of how privileged I was to even be in this situation. All I could think about when my feet, my knees, or general tiredness bothered me was that I chose to be where I was. Not so far away from me, migrants were to be found all over Europe. The vast majority of them fled their homes, not by choice, not due to any luxury, but due to violence, hunger, the threat of war, and the ever-present reality of death. I tried to pray with and for them with every painful footfall, even after my blisters were overall healed.

Today is Continue reading

Timeless Surrender

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Like pretty much everyone else, I can’t wait for tomorrow to be over. When I was on Camino, I was marginally aware of what was going on, but I really tried to tune out. Not having TV, newspapers, or a lot of time to look at my phone was a great antidote to election-obsession. Well, now I am back. As I try not to be obsessed, I am more aware and more focused on the news.

A particular thought goes through my mind as I listen to the doomsday predictions of what will happen if Continue reading

Where it happens

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The Meseta, somewhere after Castrojeriz, but before Fromista

It is very hard to go on Camino Santiago. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. At the beginning – if you start in St Jean Pied de Port – you are faced with a strenuous climb on day one. That’s true even if you only go as far as Orisson on that day, like we did. On day two you continue to face a big climb, followed by a big descent. Then you arrive at Roncesvalles where arrival at the albergue is pretty much the opposite of the intimate and warm greeting at Orrison. Crowds, shouted orders, lines, food tickets and more.  It was disorienting to say the least, not to mention the exhaustion, the questions (why am I here?) and more.

Days follow, more trials and challenges. You come to find that everything in Spain in uphill. Well, almost everything it seems. Then you realize that uphill is difficult, but downhill – that stuff will mess you up! It is worse! Soon enough you believe you will be fine because you are on the Meseta. The thing is, it is not always flat, but it is hot, dry, dusty, and desolate, providing its own brand of challenge.

Now if I am making the Camino sound awful, slow down. It is amazing, but it is no stroll in the park. The point is, going on Camino is a gift and privilege, but it is also a big challenge. It is hard.

Yet, here is what may be even harder – returning home and re-entering the stream of life. That’s hard too, at least after 48 hours. I am so happy to be back home and with Mark. I loved taking my own shower in my own bathroom and sleeping in my own bed.

The Camino happens not only in Spain, but it happens in the “room” that is one’s heart. And I need to stay in the “room where it happens.” (Sorry, can’t resist a #Hamilton reference!)  So my question today is this… how will I do this?

The answer? So far, I do not know, but I know that my Camino heart-room is the anchor that must keep me from drifting. There’s no going back to either who I was before I left, and there’s no going back to Spain. At least not right now, regarding the latter.

Today my prayer is that I can stay in the room where it happens… no matter where I am. You cannot stay on the Camino for your entire life, but you can stay on pilgrimage in your heart.

Oh – one more thing. All that challenge and misery inducing climbing and descending and walking through the long, lonely flats? It is great and wonderful and powerful and beautiful! Why? Because that is how God invites you to the change of being physically, emotionally, and spiritually stronger. But only if you allow God to do so. And only if you allow yourself to stay put in the room of your heart with God. I’ll be working on that, as I worked on my lung capacity and leg strength at the beginning of my Camino, with every step a prayer.

The Camino continues…

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Sue and I on the way to Orrison, day 1.

 

Thank you for the prayers and support along the Way – we arrived home last night. My Camino partner and friend Sue and I had an exceptional journey. We did not love every minute, but how we loved it all.

Please know that all of you were held in my heart as I walked. In The Camino defied every expectation, physical, emotional, spiritual. It was more of all than I could have ever imagined. Maybe that is the most important thing, imagining is nothing, it is only made real as one walks.

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Deb, me, Sue, & Jen

My cat decided that I should wake up earlier than I planned, so I decided to once again watch the movie The Way. As much as I thought I would recognize places, I did not recognize so many, although I was aware that places were “out of order” when I did recognize them! Hey, it was a movie, so that’s OK. What struck me as the most accurate thing in the film was the sense of community and friendship on the Camino, it really got that part right! For me the Camino is forever intertwined with such beautiful people, whether I met them for a moment, or if I walked with them for days. The Camino is a place where people live generously, and that is what I hope to carry home more than anything.

Three photos for today – our beginning, our geographical middle, and our arrival in Santiago. The end? There is no end, as the Camino continues in ways yet untold. How grateful I am, and how grateful I continue to be. More to follow.

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The arrival at the Cathedral

Ready or not

am-i-ready-to-face-fears-of-starting-my-own-b-L-f3xoBw24 days, but who’s counting?  Hah. I am. How do I feel? In a word? Terrified. In a phrase, suddenly completely vulnerable and totally unprepared.

Yet, the day is coming, and on that day, we will be going.

If you have not seen the movie The Way, I recommend it. From what I am told it fluctuates starting with wildly inaccurate –  things like who walks on impulse, using someone else’s pack, and wearing jeans? And why don’t people have blisters? Then it becomes apparently quite believable – the walking and walking, the Camino families that form, the daily grind of walking, and the incredible grace and gift of doing just that.

Either way, at this point I am awash in self-doubt, terror, fear, and imagining all sorts of ways that I will be unprepared. This seems to be a most necessary step and invitation of being a peregrina on The Way.

(Note: before I wrote this, I had a terrible week for walking. A multitude of reasons had me less than active. Interestingly enough I got in 4 miles this morning, all before 6:30am. And I feel *slightly* less terrified!)

Keep on walking

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Yes, that is my foot, yes that is my hiking boot.

Hi! Worst blogger ever has returned for a brief moment. Time is not on my side when it comes to writing right now. In fact, I should be outside right now, but here I am in the non-walking position, and that means I am writing!

Five weeks from today I will – well, God willing as we say around here – will head north to Montreal. From there, Sue and I will get on a plane and fly to Paris. Camino Santiago, here we come! Yet, five weeks seems both an incredibly long time, and an incredibly short time. Long in the sense that I have a lot of training in front of me, and short in the sense that I have so much to do before I leave. Every day I am faced with the need to walk the walk. Talk is cheap, walk – not so much. I simply have to keep on walking.

There are many things I would love to write about, like the mass readings. In today’s Gospel we hear for the zillionth time that we need to be forgiving. Talk really is cheap, isn’t it? Last night I dreamed of an old friend, a person that I find it nearly impossible to forgive. Old childhood wounds and disappointments remain tender, more recent challenges burn white hot at times, erupting and taking me by surprise. Last night she crossed my mind as I was cleaning up after dinner, and she turns up in my dream. Wow God you are persistent, aren’t you?

In the dream we were both tentative and amicable, until Hillary Clinton showed up. Was she with us? Or on TV or a device? Oh wispy dreams, I cannot grasp your tendrils and remember. Anyway, there she was and before anything could erupt, my old friend said that we could not discuss politics. I felt total relief, instead of my typical urge to pick at the wound of disagreement. Then I awakened! Poof, dream over. Five minutes later I am drowsy and reading the Gospel about forgiveness. Talk is so cheap, ridiculously so and yest even at that price I can’t even talk theoretical forgiveness with this friend. What about walking? Can I walk forgiveness? It seems hardly possible.

Jesus tells us we must forgive in this way:

“I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

And I can barely keep count of reps when I exercise, or even laps around my neighborhood – how do I do this?

How many miles must I Continue reading