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 12, 2017

Stage Fright

It's only 5 days before I leave for the Camino. And with many things happening personally, I barely have time to absorb the frenetic news of the world.

A big party will be held at our house for my sister a couple days after I return. Work projects are getting negotiated. Different loose ends with the ministries I participate in are getting resolved. Car maintenance, of course, rears itself at this inopportune time. Family issues are out there, including a funeral that I'll be missing for Stephen's uncle. I still need to do one more training day for my walk. I want to spend some good quality time with Stephen before I leave. With all that, I acknowledge that the level of anxiety is much higher than I prefer at this time of preparation.

As you can see, I have things that pre-occupy me. But that's not new. We all have an array of concerns swirling in our head. It's possible that the emotion that I'm sensing and attributing to my Camino actually arises from these day to day issues.

But I do think there's something about the anxiety and excitement surrounding the Camino that is unique and remains even though this is my fifth trip back to Santiago de Compostela. It's akin to what seasoned actors must feel when, before getting in front of the camera or on stage, there's still that tingling feeling of nervousness. Many think stage fright affects only the amateur actor or speaker, but it can and, perhaps, should affect everyone.

When an actor goes out on stage, they're exposing themselves. They're vulnerable. As artists, there's an exploration of a character's personality, emotion, and behaviour. Their goal is to portray their character with truth and integrity, even and especially if the character is without any truth or integrity.

Isn't that similar to what a pilgrim does? As pilgrims, we seek to be immersed in truth, integrity, beauty; to walk in the footsteps of love and of humanity; to encounter timeless revelations about who we are and what God intended us to be.

And that's scary.

So yes, I'm still anxious about this Camino. Yes, I'm still excited. Yes, I'm still nervous. And yes, I'm still wondering if I'm ready or if I need another rehearsal or two. 

Coincidentally, each day's leg of a Camino is called a "stage". The Camino Frances from St. Jean Pied-de-Port, for example, is typically 33 stages (33 days). My customized Camino of 350 km (I think) will be over 12 stages. I've incorporated various rest/prayer days at the beginning. But it's always the first and second days that create the most anxiety. The first day because you're testing the waters. The second day is actually problematic because you're usually tired from the first day and are thinking "Wait, what, I have to walk again?"

Whether the stage fright hits you as an actor or as a pilgrim, the goal still remains. Each stage is a step towards truth, a platform to discover the nature of mankind and of God, and an opportunity to dig deep into the soul. And that objective grounds me, allowing me to set aside my fears. With fellow actors and fellow pilgrims, we can and do seek together. We laugh, fear, and cry together. And we stumble into insight into who we are and what we can be. Stage fright... what a blessing!

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