Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Camino of Gratitude

The Facebook group I started before I began my third journey along the Camino - The Camino of Healing - has wandered along with me on my pilgrimages, my explorations of the soul, and my life. It always invites prayer requests and offers encouragement to those who take pilgrimages, and celebrates as they find their way home.

And sometimes the journey goes deep into the soul. Healing of the spirit to find peace and reconciliation can't be done by merely scratching the surfaces of our flesh and feelings. Healing things that cause deep pain requires deep attention. Deep care. Deep love.

And one of the things I keep returning to when I am in pain - in search of deep healing, in transition, in the middle of nowhere - is that there's more to healing than merely slapping on a bandage.

I described in my previous blog post (Last Day of School, First Day of Summer) my recent experiences with the transition and the pain I've carried as I tried to work past the troubles - to walk around, over, under, and through my problems. And unsurprisingly my prayers and griefs were often powerfully focused on all manners of pain and grief. Some of my friends, sensitive to all that caresses our souls, felt a pain in me that seemed to go beyond the deaths of beloved friends. They felt a grief that was profoundly personal.

And they were right.

My blog posts revealed grief. My prayers voiced the grief. My heart wept the grief.

And Thursday, as one phase of my life came to an end and another began, I could not even nail down exactly WHAT my feelings were. A friend texted how I felt. How? HOW? I couldn't put it into a word. Sad? Happy? Relieved? Joyful? I didn't know how to respond. So I said:

Image result for emoji faces

Not exactly thoughtful, I know. But I was sort of numb and emojis are an easy way to express thoughts without thinking about the nuance.

I went to bed Thursday night overwhelmed by the reaction by so many family and friends to my posting. The reactions were so loving. So supportive. So connected to me.

And when I awoke on Friday morning, to face the new day and a new phase of my life, to start a new journey, I said my morning prayers. I prayed for those who I knew wanted the prayers and for those who had died. And I then moved into personal prayers.

And when I was done, I realized something. My personal prayers had a different tone. They weren't filled with grief and tears. My prayers were all basically prayers with a common theme.


I was feeling grateful. Grateful that even though things don't follow our plans, our lives are still full of astonishing love and grace. Grateful that though death comes to us, we still lead lives however long or brief that bring joy, love, and interconnectedness. Grateful that I was remembering this.

When we look at these feelings of gratitude, we find that it materializes when we become aware of our relationship with someone or something. We recognize the intrinsic value of the person or place or situation. And we sense the truth of the interconnectedness between ourselves and that which makes us grateful.

It's not merely the satisfaction of buying a new gadget or trinket. Or enjoying a good dinner. Or winning a game.

Gratitude is a shimmering feeling, a warmth that fills our being, and gives us a sensation of life.

Blood coursing through our body is sent forth from the heart and then returns to the heart. Gratitude coursing through our body also is sent forth from the heart and returns to the heart.

When we feel this close to someone or something or some situation, the relationships become neon bright with love, empathy, and compassion. We unite ourselves to the other. We forget our differences. We become infused with the Holy Spirit and our hearts resonate harmonically, on different notes but somehow in beautiful unity.

That gratitude is powerful. That gratitude heals.

Last month, I listened as Diana Butler Bass, author of Grateful, spoke about gratitude... that our brains can't live in fear and gratitude at the same time. Somehow, after the finality of Thursday's events, I crossed a border from a desolate land of fear into a serene realm of gratitude.

And when we are festooned with the healing power of gratitude, we can grow from any darkness. A scab on our wounds might itch, yet we can leave it alone, we can still appreciate that is doing us good. that the healing will come from that discomfort. We can watch the tissues of a scar mend, unite, become whole once again.

With gratitude, it is possible for us to see that the sanctity of our lives can never bleed and is never at risk because of mere flesh wounds. Because we are still bound by grace to each other and our Creator. And we can rise to the new morning to live out the healing love that courses through our lives. May we all walk our Camino of Healing, a Camino of Gratitude.