Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Camino de Santiago - The Road Not Taken (Preparing #12)

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

A walk through Killiecrankie, Scotland, June 2013
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

When I first read this poem in junior high, I recall my reaction. "Wow! A poem I like!" It was the first poem I ever enjoyed and it still resonates. In many ways, I've lived by this poem through most of my life. In other ways, I've chosen to plan life instead of live life.

So as I prepare to leave, I ponder the nature of pilgrimage and the mindset one is on while taking one. In some ways, the Camino de Santiago has become so popular that it can be described as "religious tourism". By that I mean that I will be on a route that is both personal and shared with many who are out to "check it off their list". And in some ways, it's been on my list. I first heard about the Camino when I was cycling and backpacking through Europe in my college days. I met folks at youth hostels who had described the journey and it sounded like a wonderful adventure. That it's taken me this long to make time to do this pilgrimage reflects how far I've wandered from those carefree days.

But others won't have waited as long and will be out on their adventure. And the Camino is waiting for them. I won't be surprised when I see the typical fingerprints of adventure tourism. Bars and restaurants geared almost entirely to the pilgrim trade, trinket shops lining some streets, signs written in English -- all will speak volumes about how important it is to attract the economic attention of the non-northern Spaniard. I'm not naive about it and will probably buy a few things. For example, I want to get a scallop necklace or pin, as the scallop shell is the symbol of the Camino de Santiago.
Photo found on the web
What some people might consider opportunism, others would consider helpful. The key is to not judge but to accept that people in rural areas have to make a living.

Much of my walk revolves around the concept of judgment. And that's really perhaps the nut of my discernment in my walk. I've been so quick to judge most of my life. I've battled it well since returning to the church, but a lifetime of bad behaviours can be tough to dampen.

I judge friends and family. Why would you do that? You should do this. I judge total strangers, especially the person who cuts me off or drives way too fast or too slow. And it'll be particularly interesting dealing with this on something as personal as a pilgrimage. "You're taking a bus or taxi to the next village?" or "You're using the luggage transport service?" will hover perilously close to my lips.

I've said several times in the past few weeks, "Unfortunately, I can't get away from work for 7 weeks, so I'm only walking 1/2 the Camino". "Only 260 miles." Do you hear the judgment in those statements? Do you see what I'm doing?

I judge myself. I am expecting my pilgrimage to be something that it isn't meant to be. I'm comparing myself to others. I'm weighing my actions in comparison to those who don't affect me. It started effortlessly before I even began the Camino, but I pray I don't do it while I'm on the Camino. At the very least, I hope that I'll notice it and hear my thoughts before I say something I'd regret.

I pray that I won't judge the person who litters. I'll just pick up after him or her and hope that someone picks up after me should I accidentally leave something on the ground. I pray that I won't judge the person who gets mad because there's no room at an albergue. I won't judge those who are on the Camino looking for a road trip adventure because all these people, all the folks who ebb and flow into my life are on their own journeys. That's their path, their way.

My journey, with my own two feet, will be my own.

I leave tomorrow morning. My very last status update on Facebook before I begin my walk will be posted from Madrid airport. I will continue to post here on the blog, but will be following a road I didn't think I'd ever take. I want to make this journey my own and not influenced by comments or news from others.

I didn't choose this road all these decades, but it calls me now. And it's not too late to back up and go down the road you were meant to take. May your choice of roads make all the difference.

Vamonos con Dios, peregrinos. Buen camino.

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)

1 comment :

  1. Try not to judge your judging. See it, know it, name it, release it. Over and over again.