How fitting. I've come for a Healing pilgrimage. I take a big jet to cross the ocean, then the TGV bullet train down to Lourdes from Paris, and for the past 2 days have slowly fallen into a fever, drippy nose, coughing, and other symptoms that scare me when I consider taking a backpack and walking 23 miles tomorrow.
I got my Year of Mercy "passport" and especially dear, my Camino passport, marked from the Basilica, to show that my Camino begins here. It scared me deeply because I felt so weak and sickly.
I marched up after a 5pm Adoration service to the top of the Chemin de la Croix, the Way of the Cross. The stations are laid out over a 1.5km hike up a steep hill. One asked that you approach Christ (at the top of many stairs) humbly on your hands and knees.
Given my illness, this was quite challenging. And when I reached the top of the dozens of stairs, I wept for those who could not do this trip, this hill, this station. And I prayed, like everyone else here, for healing, strength, and courage to do what I can.
The humility came on strong after dinner, after a nap. I went to the candle procession where thousands march in on wheelchairs and crutches and their loved ones. And I knew I marched with them, as I walk with them. I feel the sense of shared struggle and tiredness.
A touching moment came soon after the procession. I was walking to the giant votive candles and a volunteer as old as my Dad started to speak to me in German. I don't speak German so I didn't understand. He pointed to my Camino emblem on my shirt and asked "peregrino"? Since I didn't speak German, I grasped at a way to communicate: "Dah , Miercoles, Voy a Santiago après ici" (how sadly multilingual is that?). Then he smiled, pointed to himself, indicating he once did it too. The he put his forehead next to mine and gave me a blessing. I thanked him and he patted me off with a "Buen Camino".
I don't know if it was the fever, but I was an emotional wreck.
I thank you God for showing me that the way of healing is not through arrogance but through humility, reconciliation, and common humanity. I thank you God I thank you God.
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