“Once you decide to walk the Camino, all of your life is part of that journey.”
I made the decision January 2014.
I had had lunch with a good brother of mine, Skip, and he had told how he and his wife had walked the Camino de Santiago the previous year (at 69 years old) and had been forever changed.
The idea of stripping life down to such basics – a place to sleep and eat, a path to walk, and prayer – captured my heart.
My fellow pastors in the Cedar Hills area had been encouraging me to take a sabbatical for two years. They had told of how their own three-month breaks had impacted their lives and ministries.
“You need this,” they said.
I knew they were right but until Skip and I had talked, I didn’t know what I would do. But I was captured by this 500-mile trek — The Camino de Santiago de la Compostela.
I’ve already written here of our journey as a congregation applying for and receiving the Lilly Foundation Clergy Renewal grant.
This week another gift entered my preparation year in the person of a young 26-year-old named Matthew.
Matthew met our dear friend David Luce (here) when in England for his grandmother’s funeral in February 2016. Matthew’s mom is English. And it turned out her mom, his grandmother, and her dad had been friends of my friend David’s for over 40 years. When at the funeral, as a last minute change, since Matthew’s cousin couldn’t make it, he was asked to read scripture. David’s ears perked up at hearing an American accent.
In chatting with Matthew after the funeral, David was thrilled to discover that Matthew soon planned to move to Portland, Oregon for his doctorate at the Naturopathic College there.
“Portland!?!? I have dear friends there.”
And then and there he shared my contact information with Matthew.
That seemed a bit out of the blue for Matthew, but as a lover of Jesus, he knew it could be Spirit led. He waited to contact me for a while, but then one day the Lord said, “Write him!” Matthew, who had been a bit nervous to do so, obeyed.
When I received his email, I thought, any friend of David’s is my friend too, and in our correspondence invited Matthew to plan to bunk with us until other, more suitable lodging could be found.
He arrived Monday May 9th. As we shared that night, our life stories, hurts and victories, addiction and recovery, it was astounding to me how connected I felt immediately to his young man. It was like he had always been a part of our lives and somehow, even that first night, I sensed he would have a continual place there.
By Friday we had covered many major subjects of the heart from sex to faith, from shame and vulnerability to guilt and sin. I had invited him to join me planting my wife’s mom’s vegetable garden, and then for my haircut, and then he went on a 6-hour hike with Gabrielle. It is remarkable to me.
Who does this? How is it possible to be so richly connected so quickly? I love him as if he is my son, and, my equal. I’m learning so much from him. And I am relishing the beauty of this old soul.
What are you doing, Lord?
“Son, you are on My Camino. You don’t know what surprises I have planned for you along the way both now and later. Matthew is part of my plan. He is a foretaste of the many others whom I shall bring into your life to bless and enrich you. Your life, it is mine, and I am working to transform it.”