Trusting and acting

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Left in the desert…

From today’s first reading, from the book of Exodus:

Pharaoh was already near when the children of Israel looked up
and saw that the Egyptians were on the march in pursuit of them.
In great fright they cried out to the LORD.
And they complained to Moses,
“Were there no burial places in Egypt
that you had to bring us out here to die in the desert?
Why did you do this to us?
Why did you bring us out of Egypt?
Did we not tell you this in Egypt, when we said,
‘Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians’?
Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians
than to die in the desert.”
But Moses answered the people,
“Fear not! Stand your ground,
and you will see the victory the LORD will win for you today.
These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.
The LORD himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”

As battles rages on in our political systems here in the US, and around the world, I think about how it often feels as though those in power have Continue reading

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Camino Stories – Coincidence?

camino-mapMany of you know that I went on Camino Santiago in the fall. It has been difficult to write about my experiences there. Why? I am not sure! Maybe it is because of the extraordinary nature of such a trip, a journey traveled in the world and also in the soul. Words do not come easily! In any case, I will start sharing some Camino Stories. Today I begin with one about coincidences occurring on the beginning and the end of the trip.

My camino compañera Sue and I flew from Montreal to Paris to begin our journey. As she had never been to Paris, we made a plan to stay overnight and have a one day whirlwind around this remarkable city. God was good and I found us a cheap hotel in a great location. It was a LOVELY hotel. We arrived at the crack o’ dawn and they let us check into our room. We changed and washed up, took off, and spent the day sightseeing.

Late in the afternoon found us near the Eiffel Tower at last. Sue was thrilled to be there. Honestly, having done it before, I was not so interested in going up, but once we got there, Sue’s excitement was contagious. Like all the other tourists, we waited in a long line and finally got to the elevator, which brings you to the first viewing level.

It was super crowded – crazy crowded. Sue and I were Continue reading

More waiting, more motion

wait-1As I mentioned the other day, Advent seems to be like waiting-in-motion to me this year. This is not unusual given that I have recently returned from walking along the Camino Francés route of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. Pondering my waiting-in-motion, I read these words from today’s first reading:

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.

Given the current social and political climate, I am frustrated by the wait for this great day when the wolf, lamb, leopard and others will be playing nicely together. How long must I wait, how long Lord?

It seems like a long wait right now. Awakened early this morning by who knows what, I experienced my thoughts slamming into the walls of my brain, like untethered objects in an attic during an earthquake. In the dark of night it dawned on me that part of the problem was that my waiting was in fact, the problem. In my mind I could see  tears roll down the red-hot cheeck of a petulant child with fists balled up, screaming “WANT! NOW!”  Of course, the child is me. Lion, lamb, Christmas, nice, NOW!

Which brings me right back to waiting-in-motion and pilgrimage. Right now I feel as if I am stuck in a linear spiritual ditch. I long to head straight to my destination, Advent. Oh come on, who am I kidding? My desired spot is hardly Advent, despite my protestations that I love this season. If I am honest, I want to get to Jesus who will take care of everything. The reality is that I am not in a ditch, and the journey of Advent, like all journeys of the spirit, is not at all linear. And Jesus? I think he means for all of us to do the work with him, and not standly idly by as he whips up a dose of world peace.

When I was near the end of the Camino, the pilgrim path wound itself up and down mountains, and through green forests. Some days it felt like passing through a magical woodland, awash in mystical mists or luminous light. The path was worn down in so many places, and I was reminded me that many people had walked here for a long, long time. Waiting-in-motion, co-conspirators with the mission, whether they realized that or not.

on-the-way-to-sarriaToday that thought brings forth an element of the journey of Advent that is not at all linear, considering I make this journey each year. And it is certainly not one that I make alone. Pressing on with common purpose with others, I do go forward, a trip that is well-intended but meaningless if I do not go deeper as well.

One of the things that shaped me most powerfully on Camino was the slow and plodding nature of the thing. It demanded a presence of the moment the likes of which I had never experienced. I wish that I could tell you that I always liked it, but I cannot tell you that. Sometimes I hated it. It made me go… yes, you might have guessed it – deeper.

santiago-directIn the slow motion of a biped inching along, I was being reformed. As in re-formed, not fixed or corrected!  This would not have happened if I had driven from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, a ride of  8 hours, give or take. Instead, I walked, often up to 8 hours a day… for about 35 days. Would it have been the same? I think we all know the answer to that question!

This long ramble redirects me to the pilgrim path of Advent. If I want lions and lambs to get along, I must make the effort to walk there with them. If I want to “get to” the God-with-us of the Incarnate Christ, my presence is required, step by step. It is not a straight line, and it is not on the surface, and it is most certainly not passive!

In the foreward to the book, Traveling Souls, Contemporary Pilgrimage Stories (edited by Brian Bouldrey) Pico Iyer writes:

“A pilgrim’s journey, unlike a traveler’s, never ends, only deepens.”

The power of that pilgrim journey has me back on my feet, even if only the feet of my heart. Step by step they make their Advent way, going deeper with every footfall. It may be more waiting, but it is also more motion. It is the only way.

Just walk

my-boot-and-me-wordsToday is the feast day of Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ. It is not on the liturgical calendar because his canonization is not complete. One day, one day…

Ever since I returned from Camino Santiago on October 31, I have found myself at loose ends. First of all, the return from the pilgrim life and back into the quotidian routine is startling. I am reminded of cycles of birth and death – I imagine being birthed is a shock to our tiny bodies, but we adjust, and God willing, thrive. As we do not know of death until we get there, our faith informs us of another passage which may be shocking at first, but one that I believe will be… well, I have no words, but glorious comes to mind.

Anyway, I feel like I have either been born or died, I cannot figure out which one. Born in the sense that I feel ever more a child of God, totally dependent and unable to Continue reading

Step by step

IMG_3679.jpgStep by step the start of the our Camino de Santiago comes closer and closer. This is where we are at today, Monday, September 5, 2016.

And yes, I am terrified. However, I am also feeling deep faith and peace at the same time, confident that God will lead us, step by step.

My other feeling is the extreme gratitude of so many people, so many, many people, who have supported me both materially and through abundant prayers. Thank you everyone, thank you God.

 

Poems, pilgrimage, perspective

Worlds End .JPGLast Saturday, after walking past a sign with a vaguely dystopian message, my Camino Santiago partner and friend, Sue and I entered the forest. The first part of our journey was a bit more arduous than either of us had imagined.  It grew clear to me that the sign was more descriptive than vague! Where were we and what had we gotten ourselves into in the name of camino preparation, or as we cool kids of the internet like to say, #caminoprep.

The hike offered great perspective on many things, but a few stand out in stark detail. One being that it seemed like the world’s end due to the steep, sharp, gravity defying trails that we traversed, clad as we were in our camino gear, complete with heavy packs on our back. My imagination, which runs like a super high definition camera when pondering possible fates, usually terrifying ones, was on overdrive as I imagined my short, stout body tipping backwards and rolling down the rocky trail to an early end. Obviously I am alive, but on Saturday I was not sure I would remain so!

Despite choosing a #caminoprep run that was way beyond our technical hiking skill, Sue and I ended up loving so much of what we saw at Worlds End State Park. Continue reading

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