Endless mercy

EDIT CalzadillaThe day we walked to #calzadilladeloshermanillos was one of the toughest in #spain🇪🇸 The #challenge of walking the #meseta got me, more mentally than physically. The #caminodesantiago was no game. God have mercy, I cried! How #bleak things seemed. Today’s 1st reading from #daniel expresses my #prayer that day, & my prayer today. The #gospel from #matthew reminds us however that the #mercy of #god is present. There is a price… we are to offer our mercy to others, full stop. There’s the toughest #camino challenge- how to do this. The road may seem barren, bleak, endless, but is not. Refreshment is ours when we open ourselves to receive the #love of #christ and then lavish it upon others. Especially to those who are the hardest to #forgive . Do that however and the #fountains of mercy that #jesus offers flow perpetually. #lessons of #lent

(This is a copy of today’s version of my daily Instagram posts of Lent.  I’m enjoying doing this, and I’m grateful for the good feedback that I have received. Today please be merciful to someone you would prefer not to show mercy to. This is what is asked from us, and it is so challenging to respond to God in this way.)

Bread line, Lent 1 short

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Seen in Spain, during Camino.

“I gotta put bread on the table!” How often has that line, or something like it been used to justify doing things? Doing things that go against what we know is right. Whether it is not honoring the Sabbath, completing a work assignment that has moral implications, missing time spent with family or loved one… you fill in the blank. We’ve all done it. We all do it.

Today’s Gospel is from Matthew show us Jesus is in the desert being tempted. It has to be hot, challenging, and lonely. He must be exhausted, hungry and thirsty. It would be easy to give in, it would be reasonable even. Right?

But is anything about a life of faith, a life following Christ, ever reasonable in the material sense? Think about that and you have your answer. This does not mean some intense over-scrupulosity that turns self-induced sacrifice into some kind of holy-making exercise. Instead, we are asked to keep God first in our sights and choose accordingly. It means trusting God when the last shred is about to tear away. It is that simple, which indeed that difficult. And it does not always work out in the way we wish for. There’s the rub.

How often do we do what we should not? What else can we do…  we don’t want to end up on the breadline, do we?

(I’m off of social media for Lent. What I am doing is posting a photo a day on Instagram, with a short reflection. Each one posts to Facebook automatically. If you are on Instagram, check it out.)

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

Ultreya!

ultreia-1Hi, I have not been around, although many posts are in draft mode. And then there are the book reviews that got “lost” under drifts of snow and blasts of cold during the winter, the ones that had me seeking refuge on my sofa. Where exactly have I been since the warmer days came along? Well – I’ve been walking and walking and walking. And then I walk some more. Yes, me. Really!

From early on,  I was a big walker. Having grown up in a place with a downtown and sidewalks, and then having lived near and worked in NYC, I always walked a lot. Then I moved here, started grad school at night and a new career during the day. Walking was the short distance between house and attached garage, parking lot and office, and so forth. Grad school ended in 2013, but somehow I could not get my walking – or exercising in any form – groove back, except for when on vacation.

walkinarelaxedmannerlrgSo what’s up now? The summer after graduation, I read Walk in a Relaxed Manner by Joyce Rupp. Long ago dreams of making a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, specifically the Camino Francés were reawakened. Now that dream is becoming reality scheduled for September 2016, a date chosen about one year ago when my friend and fellow pilgrim Sue and I decided to try to follow up on this seemingly impossible dream.

This is truly a quixotic quest. Am I really going to Continue reading