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, March 11, 2015

Looking forward from the Camino, 6 months later

This is a photo I took in Burgos Cathedral at the start of my Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in 2014. A young tourist or peregrino (pilgrim) is capturing the stunning stained glass at the end of a hallway near the courtyard.

This photo haunts me. To me, it raises so many questions. What are you seeing that you wish to capture? Does it capture the beauty you saw? Will you forget this beauty once you walk away, except if you take this photo? With whom will you share this photo and what will you tell them? What do think knowing that this window, like all windows, eventually returns to dust?

I share this photo because here we are in the middle of Lent, and lo and behold I realize: it's been exactly six months since I landed in Spain and began my Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

What happened to me in that time? I walked the Camino de Santiago, discovered and rediscovered some timeless lessons about community and relationships, deepened my faith, and found myself  in a deeper journey of spirituality than I expected.

Yes, the Camino was an adventure. Indeed for some, the adventure of the Camino is a primary attraction. I admit that I was looking forward with only the slightest trepidation an opportunity to relive my backpacking and cycling days of youth through Europe.

But I went into it as a journey of the soul. I came out of it seeing the face of God ever more strongly as I shared and touched and connected with some amazing people. Every person is your closest friend, if ever so briefly on your journey. And one marches on, with a growing realization that more angels will come every day and show you your way.

I think of my Austrian "nephews" who began to walk with me towards the end, and made my trip so deeply satisfying. Isn't it amazing how the young always seem to energize us? I didn't think of it at the time, but they infused me with the same hope and love of the future as when I stayed with the Taize community in France. The love of our Creator knows no bounds and in our young, we see the same limitless hope.

And while Lent also strides onwards towards Easter, I immerse myself in reflection about the cross and the burdens of our mortality. We are on this planet for such a short time, yet we act as though some days can be wasted on trivial things. What does it take to remind ourselves that we must live life anew, fresh and as hopeful as children?

Is it in children?

Is it in Jesus?

Is it on a spiritual quest?

None of these offers a quick answer. Anybody who thinks so will find possibly simple satisfaction, but might find themselves also in an existential crisis when challenges of life come crashing down.

This is why I think my Camino pilgrimage continues. Lent is a season, but the introspection is needed every day. Children grow up, but the wonders in their eyes must reside in us always. Jesus inspires, but we need to carry His love throughout our day and not just in the pews. My spiritual quest hasn't ended but just cycles through yet another phase.

So as six months have passed by and I reflect on what I've learned from my Camino walk, I'll look at various aspects of my journey - before, during, and after my pilgrimage - for the remainder of this Lent. Not because I'm planning on returning, which I am next year, but because life's lessons, like life, must be renewed and restored.

May your spring bring forth a bloom of life and potential life anew, from the soil you've tilled before.

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