Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Camino 2017-10-4 Where There Is Despair, Hope

On this Feast Day of Saint Francis, many share the prayer attributed to him. He remains one if not the most popular Saint, given his humility, piety, and endless love of animals and humanity. And he walked the Camino 803 years ago.

My day started with reading his prayer and ended with a Rosario and mass at the Padrón Church of Santiago, with prayers especially to celebrate the feast day. In between those moments, I kept the prayer as well as Saint Patrick's blessing in my heart.

I met up with Julz in Caldas de Reis and we walked the day together all the way to Padrón. We enjoyed lazy rivers, animals of all types, and stunning agricultural lands hugging the hills. We saw the forest as well as the trees, and we talked about it.

We discussed the problems of hearing but not listening, of viewing but not seeing, of touching but not feeling. As I pondered this later on while sitting alone and staring over the river, it occurred to me that the contradictions in Francis's prayer could help address the problems. We are hearing but we aren't listening because we don't let others speak to us. We do not see because we don't let others show themselves. And we don't feel because we don't let ourselves be touched.

I tripped a wire twice with Julz with my comments and questions. The first went by and nothing happened; I felt something could be said but wasn't. The second time, we shared tears again like yesterday. In the baptism of tears, we washed away the despair, and - it felt - invited hope.

We chatted with lovely Andre and Ana from Portugal during a snack break at a coffee shop. Ellen walked past and we set a dinner date in Santiago for tomorrow night. And we smiled at familiar faces that come and go at the different places people meet. It's fleeting and yet it's meaningful. 

I wrap up this penultimate walking day with a confession and the prayer. We are so easily focused on the hatred, injury, discord, error. On the doubt, despair, darkness, sadness. I go there like everyone else, and it doesn't feed me. It's a sin I work on by accepting that I'm not brought closer to God when I dawdle there. What feeds me is to console, to understand, and to love. Because it's not about me then. It's about gratitude for having first and second and third chances, and saying thank you in the only way I know how.

Walk with the one who feeds us, and live a life set free.

Prayer Attributed to Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that we may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are brought back to eternal life.

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