Sunday, October 19, 2014
After the Walk, Where Do I Stand?
Many have asked me if I feel different? Do I feel changed? Was I transformed?
Of course, my first response is usually glib and about blisters: I've gotten more blisters on my feet during this walk than the rest of my five decades combined.
All kidding aside, I do feel different inside. I have a better sense of where I'm going. I now appreciate how my journey guides me and how I must respond. I feel much more confident about the guiding signs that lead me. And even though I don't have my way mapped out in detail, I know which way to head and to stay alert for the signs.
I just feel and know that I need to follow my way, wherever it leads. I might have a clearer idea of where I'm going, but I just can't force my path to go in a certain way. It strikes me that life just doesn't work that way. I have to adjust and change as the way works on me.
And I know that my way won't be alone. Much of my spiritual rebirth in the past two decades has been deeply personal. In some ways, I feel now, it's somewhat selfish because I focused so much on my own development. But, our paths are not meant to go alone. It's not possible. Moreover, we can't survive on our own. We depend on each other and must trust that it's through our love and trust in others that our trust in God becomes most evident. By trusting others, we show that we can also trust God. If we can't trust others, how can we say that we trust in a higher power? No, my spiritual growth depends on those around me and this revelation grew obvious on my walk.
And those whom I must depend, those who are around me, these aren't necessarily the people I already know. Just like on the Camino, the people I don't meet are nonetheless present around me. Perhaps we may possibly meet, perhaps we won't. Nonetheless, we share a journey together and it's possible that our paths will intertwine in the future. It's possible that we will touch each other deeply. Anything is indeed possible. And I must keep my lantern lit and stay alert for the party.
I also know that I've got to be alert to how I limit myself. The incident in Melide where I judged someone was downright bigoted. I almost avoided someone who on the surface made me uncomfortable. But it was all on me. He actually did nothing to push me away. And I wouldn't have been blessed with the profound lessons of our meeting if he hadn't reached out and chatted with me.
I don't believe I shared the story of my flight home. I was tired and looked forward to resting on the Madrid to Dallas leg. Instead, a young man imposed himself on me and chatted with me. He looked like one of those who are unfamiliar with long-distance business travel, and he fit uncomfortably in his suit. He talked and wasn't shy about trying to chat me up. Normally, I would have tried my hardest to ignore him and return to my reading and sleeping.
But, perhaps because there were 6 other peregrinos sitting in my area on the flight (we're easy to identify: we have the shells on our carry-on bags), I didn't turn away from him. Something in me opened to him and let him into my space, talked with him, joined him on this shared flight home. It didn't cost me anything, and I felt somehow that I had to be present with him.
As we were deplaning, an older woman crossed over to him. She was also clad in business attire and said to him, "Sorry you had to spend your birthday that way. At least you can now rest."
I don't know if I ever recognized that he was reaching out to me. I still don't know if I'd notice it if it happened again. I do know that by being there for him, by letting my guard down, by opening myself to him I perhaps made his birthday a little less unhappy, a little less unfriendly, a little less alone.
If that's the Camino still working on me, then my walk isn't over. God bless us all with the presence to stand with each other.