Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Camino de Santiago - Cruz de Ferro (Preparing #6)

One of the most compelling stops on the Camino de Santiago for me will be the Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross). Travelers typically carry a stone or pebble from home on their journey. Upon arriving at the Cruz, they see a mound of pebbles with a large thin monument topped by a cross. The mound is made of all the pebbles and stones left behind by the thousands of travelers from all over the world through the ages. You can climb onto the mound and many travelers find the sight an important milestone indicating that they are within days of the Compostela de Santiago.

I find the symbolism of the stones both astonishing and powerful. Prior to the trip, peregrino travelers are instructed to reduce, Reduce, REDUCE the weight of their pack to make this arduous, long journey more tolerable. (Don't let your pack without water exceed 10% of your body weight! Egads, my work briefcase weighs more than 10% of my body weight.) And yet, they carry with them a rock along most of the route. Why on earth would you carry unneeded weight on such a journey?

To me and to the committed peregrino, the stone represents all the physical, mental, and even spiritual that weighs you down in life. And whether you realize it, acknowledge it, or deny it, that stone follows you on your journey. It follows you every day of your life. It's in your bags, in your head, in your heart.

Try as you might do otherwise, you begin any pilgrimage with unnecessary baggage. Emotional or spiritual, granite or mental, that baggage will slow you down. It's humbling to know of the stones in your life; it's bewildering and frustrating to not know the stones in your life.

The Roman Catholic Franciscan friar, Father Richard Rohr, describes this process as letting go.
“All great spirituality teaches about letting go of what you don’t need and who you are not. Then, when you can get little enough and naked enough and poor enough, you’ll find that the little place where you really are is ironically more than enough and is all that you need. At that place, you will have nothing to prove to anybody and nothing to protect.
That place is called freedom. It’s the freedom of the children of God. Such people can connect with everybody. They don’t feel the need to eliminate anybody . . .”
― Richard Rohr, Healing Our Violence through the Journey of Centering Prayer

I imagine seeing the cross and wincing. A growing understanding will strike my heart and I'll understand what I need to leave behind. Like the thousands of pilgrims, I'll leave the weight at the cross, asking our Lord to carry my burden for me.

Will I be alone or walking with newly made friends? I won't know for another month. But when the time comes, I'm sure I'll learn much about that which hampers our personal progress.

The stone I shall be bringing with me on the Camino de Santiago

I ask my friends to use me and my rock as their stone. Let me leave our collective impediments to growth and happiness beside the road, at the foot of the cross. I'll pray for all who wish to share their burdens and place a stone down for us all.

Thank you and bless you for joining me on this transformational journey.

I leave Los Angeles on September 10 and land in Spain September 11.

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Prior blog postings regarding the the Camino
Camino de Santiago - Introduction (Preparing #1)

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