Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Camino de Santiago - Pilgrimage (Preparing #2)

Today I explore the concept of a pilgrimage. I described the Camino de Santiago in a prior post. But why does one even bother to go through this endeavor? What would possess me to consider embarking on such an arduous trip? My inner voice sometimes says, "Hey Mel, do you realize your goal is to walk somewhere between a 1/2 marathon and a marathon every single day, day after day, for weeks?"

A pilgrimage is not to get some exercise or fresh air. I could do that here in the foothills above Pasadena. It's not to go camping or take a long trip. Again, living in California, there are many options to do this. It's not even walking for hundreds of miles. This I could do following the Pacific Crest Trail in California or the Appalachian Trail. 

No, a pilgrimage is a journey with a more holy purpose. It's ritualized and full of symbolism. Each step along the journey carries some meaning. One expects that a challenges will emerge, but that these challenges will enrich the pilgrim's life. Though one steps away from work, this is not a vacation. Instead, it is a "Transformational Journey".

I've taken transformational journeys with my church (All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena) and on my own in the past. These journeys are meant to inspire and generate new insights. One hopes to find deeper meaning and a fuller grasp of the world, both spiritually and physically. Blessings and healing interactions spontaneously appear. In the end, you return home with wider eyes, a larger heart, and a greater connection to the divine.

Not everyone who walks on the Camino de Santiago consider themselves peregrinos (pilgrims). The movie "The Way" starring Martin Sheen touched this concept very well. People can have the most obtuse and irreverent reasons for taking this journey. Many may not even be expect to have a transformational experience. It's not wrong. It's just that they don't view the journey as a pilgrimage. It's an opportunity to communicate with nature, to face a physical challenge, to be at one with Creation. It's beautiful, but it's not what I'm doing per se.

I've wanted to take this pilgrimage journey for decades. It's something that's been on my bucket list but I never thought I'd find the opportunity or motivation to move forward. What changed?

Well, one reason is that I got married for the first time. I've had a long term relationship, yes, but marriage equality has only been available recently. Marriage as a vocation is a sacred life and it has opened my eyes to deeper, more spiritual needs.

Another reason is that I turned 50. I suppose that getting an AARP card starts forcing you to look at your mortality in a different way.

Both these events marked significant milestones for me and drive me to make this pilgrimage a reality.

What do I personally want to find on this journey? Here's a partial list, in no particular order
  • Forgiveness for my sins, both in what I have done and in what I have left undone
  • Identity of self, specifically the authentic me, in contrast to the professional me or the Facebook me
  • Non-stop meditation and contemplation
  • Discernment of my spiritual calling
  • Grasp of my mortality
  • Opportunities to confront my ego, and let Christ carry my burdens for me  
  • Destruction of the demons that haunt me
If you are following me on this journey, what are you seeking? Are you seeking to see that I come home safely? Are you curious about the sights I'll see? Do you really want to see all the blisters I'll earn?
I've used a prayer attributed to St Patrick for most of 2014 to wish people a happy birthday. It's what I wish for you, if you follow me on this pilgrimage.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall soft upon your fields...
And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of Her hand.

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.

Please walk with me by donating to Episcopal Relief and Development

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

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