“I’ve Got Nothing

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It was Santillana Del Mar — the place I stayed two nights, a planned rest, thinking I could enjoy the beach– only I discovered when I got there that it is not located on the “mar” at all. No “sea” at all. Indeed this town is inland. It is a medieval village located in a valley.  Miles from the beach. img_8449

It turned out to be a great place to just be, however, even without a beach!!

So I’d booked this hotel that was listed as in that town. I was a bit nervous about this. I once was a travel agent, but have lost my touch.

The first room I had booked for my arrival in Spain, August 20th, was supposed to be near the “bus station in Bilbao.” But apparently the search engine I had used had broadened out to hotels “near bus stations” all over Spain. And the great one I had chosen for its distance from the station had not been in Bilbao, at all. No, I had discovered from the taxi driver outside the Bilbao airport, it was in a city nine hours away by car!!😜

So, as we arrived in Santillana Del Mar, my friends from Italy did a search and the place I had was outside of town, but only by one km. That was doable.  Phew.

On my first walk to town, from my hotel, I was lost. (I specialize in getting lost, even though it was not that difficult a way to find.) Without my Camino, yellow arrows, I’m a mess.

I held my map.  As I walked by this gentleman, debating on whether to ask for his assistance, he turned, saw me, and asked me to stop.

“Aqui!” He said. And reached his wrinkled, beautiful hand toward mine.  He released five filberts in their shells into my hand. And then, he taught me how to shell them. Although I knew this, the gesture earned my heart. I was blessed that he reached out. I pointed at the map and asked, pointing to a point on it, if that was where we were then standing.

“No,” he said, in Spanish, “Wait.”

He turned from me, got his ancient, used-to-be-blue bicycle from against the centuries-old, rock wall of his house, and says “vamos.”  So we walked together. I introduced myself and learned his name was Leno.  With his farmer hands, face lined with age, skin leathered by the sun, and eyes that danced with light, he became my way.  My yellow arrow, in person.

He walked me down the hill passed the restaurant named after a king, to the parking lot on my map and the famarcia (Pharmacy) one of my targets.  He pointed to the map.  And I knew where I was.

I had learned in our “conversation” of his two children, a son and daughter, and that he’s a grandpa.  And he learned I have four daughters.

The filberts in my hand, which I have kept in my stuff ever since, remind me of Leno and more fully of the most basic repeated lesson in this school of life: the Camino provides.

Multiple times now, this has happened. Someone has reached out to me or to me and others and gotten us on right path.

Grace and I, one early morning realized we had not seen an arrow in some time and as we stood in the dark, near the highway, a black pickup pulled up, a man, smoking a cigarette, with a great smile, got out and approached us.

He said in Spanish – “on the Camino?”  Yes we were. He said we were not on the right track, however, the road he had just driven will connect us back to the Camino if we just follow it. So rather than backtracking, we walked this country lane, through dew-covered fields, early dawn fields and alongside pastures and darkened homes hearing the crows of roosters. Another time, this time in a large city, a man again came to us, noticing our lost expressions, no doubt, and offered his assistance. Again– The Camino provides.

Elaine, 76, from Germany had walked the Camino Frances in 2012 and didn’t need a fancy backpack for her stuff, nothing to help bear the weight, so had purchased “any old pack,” which it turned out was made for a man. She had hiked with a small pack and had that bag shipped from place to place. img_8507

Returning to walk the Del Norte this year she hadn’t thought she would need to do anything differently but had discovered first day, that there existed no means to ship her things albergue to albergue, so she had to carry the pack.  But that was impossible for her, without adjustments.

The third day in she was fading. Sharing with mates at the albergue, another woman, from Spain, said: “Elaine, take my bag and I will use yours. I just bought this, this year, it is made for a woman’s body, adjusts the weight, and is easier to carry.  I’ll take yours.”  When Elaine objected, (who does this?) the woman said how it made sense for she was only planning to walk 10 days while Elaine planned to go all the way to Santiago. Thus saying, Elaine was able to continue on the Camino, with a new, wonderful backpack.  The Camino provides.

Nannette, “the boys”– our affectionate name for two young friends from Italy, Lorenzo, Claudio– and I were walking one especially long day and missed a short cut.  Previously we had stopped in numerous shops on the mission of finding a lighter for them  to sterilize a needle to treat Lorenzo and Claudio’s blisters. We had not found one. Because we’d missed the short cut, we found ourself on this long, terrible walk along this huge factory. No sights. No beauty. Just step, step, step, step. img_8510

However–  there on that path, the “long cut,” was a Bic lighter. Nannette saw it and picked it up. Full of fuel. It worked great. Another lesson, the Camino provides.

Already I have told of how because I had stayed two days at the monastery, how a osteopathic doctor had come and done an acupuncture treatment on my leg that was giving me such trouble.  At another albergue, a massage therapist offered his services, again ministering to my leg. The Camino provides.

So much of this journey has been the repeated lesson, that nothing depends upon me. That when “I got nothing,” which is most of the time, that the Camino, the mysterious journey with God, provides all we need, the people, the gifts, the hope.

I waited a whole day in the tiny town of Unquera to meet my daughter Grace, who had flown over to meet me and walk with me ten days, on the Camino.
Here I was in this town for 8 hours. I visited the shops.  I drank tea one place, had a beer and tapas in another, bought groceries for our food up the hill, later, and chilled for a day.  It was a warm, beautiful day.  You’ve never seen such a glad guy as when Grace got off that bus. img_8567

As we began our trek out of Unquera, up the mountain to Colombres, and beyond that, to our destination that night, I realized again how “the Camino provides.”

Grace brought with her, her sensitivity to nature, her love of animals, her appreciation of the songs the birds sing, her love of adventure, her love for me, her constant laughter and added to this journey a beauty I had been missing.  Although it had been my intention to stay aware, alive, awake daily, using all my senses, truly after 17 days of walking, I’d lost some.  But now, through her, I again could slow down, see, hear, touch, feel and taste in a real sense, the Camino.

 

When I’ve got nothing, the Camino provides.

img_8589As I walk the “way” I realize again and again the truth of this.  Indeed, I don’t have to have anything to offer, the idea is not to have my hands full, but empty; not to have my mind full, but still; not to have my feelings stuffed, but expressed.  I’m learning, ever so slowly, to notice, to listen, to smell, to hear, to taste, to receive the gifts of the Camino.  In the strangest, most phenomenal way, the message continues to be, “Let Me Provide. Just receive.”

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About Camino Way 2016 Shimer

On August 22, 1981 I married this wonderful woman, Karen, who has consistently blessed and changed my life and days. We are still in love, all the more with the years. We have four daughters, two sons by marriage, and three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. So, that makes me a husband, father, and grandfather all in those sentences. But mostly just a guy who loves my family. Today Karen and I planted beautiful plants in numerous pots. She had come home with the plants and that experience reminded me how much I enjoy simple things and simple pleasures -- like digging in dirt to plant a flower, like sunlight through glass on a spring day, like clean windows -- just washed ours today -- like a melody that won't escape from my heart. I've been a local church pastor for 30 years as of this June, a number that staggers me for I feel about that age on the inside, but clearly that's not the case. Back in 1988 I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with an Mdiv-- a time of schooling that has been a foundation for years of ministry. But it is mostly in the building upon that foundation, that has most changed my life. I love people, love seeing Jesus work in people's lives. One of my favorite joys is to pray with someone through some horrible place of memory and see Jesus walk right into their memory world, and turn on the lights in a way that sets their soul free and brings healing. There's nothing like this privilege and I have been there to watch it happen more times than I can count. Between 4 and 7 the associate pastor of my family's congregation sexually abused me, first grooming me, then repeatedly violating my young self. This marked my life. It changed my bearings. It ripped at my faith. It wounded my image of what it meant to be a little boy, and later a man. It has been a point from which I have been in the process of healing for many years now. I'm a survivor, but more than that, I am one who lives beyond what was done. For in the middle of all that stuff, Jesus was calling me, speaking to me, bidding me to follow him to bring change to people's lives within the realm of the very office that was used to harm me. Only Jesus can make light from darkness, hope from despair, and healing from brokenness. I love Jesus. He really is alive, no matter what others may believe. And his life, his presence, his words into my world, his healing power have continued to be the foundation point of what it means to experience life to the fullest. I love writing. I don't really know why on that score for really writing has never been a central tool in my world, nor has it come easily. But I love seeing how words released heal. And I love the way words can connect me to other people's worlds. So, that's why I started blogging. It began because I was planning to blog on a weekly basis when I went to walk the Camino de Santiago last fall. And in order to be able to blog while walking, I knew I had to begin to practice blogging before I was in another country. A friend told me that. Friends are good to help us find ways to live more authentically into our daily lives! So, I started. But what I have discovered is there is something powerful about sharing the story of life with others. So, I have continued. And I love the connections being built through those words. In 2011 I experienced my first seminar in Simply the Story, a bible story telling method that involves those listening in discussion and I decided then -- "this is what I plan to do when I retire." But really-- "why wait until then?" -- so I use this method while I continue pastoring. It sets people free and allows the Word to take root in ways that preaching never has. So again and again I am practicing asking questions and that is good practice for me, because I am frequently better at "telling" than "asking." This has been such a freeing gift. I love training others in this skill. So, a storyteller would certainly be true of me too. Years ago I discovered my mission in life is "the joyful transformation of people's lives through the person of Jesus Christ." And that continues to be where I find my home base, in joy. Where there is joy, I find, there is Jesus, and there is the possibility of transformation. Of course Jesus is in places where there is no joy as well, and once He is there, the place kind of changes because of Him. I love that.
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9 Responses to “I’ve Got Nothing

  1. MJE says:

    Love your stories. Thank you for sharing. The Camino Provides.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cesie says:

    Thank you for letting me walk with you (even virtually!). It’s a gift.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ken Mosesian says:

    Brian –

    I must admit I’ve become dependent on your weekly updates! Thank you again. I was reminded of something that Saint Mother Theresa said – I am but a pencil in the hand of God. That’s the feeling I get whenever I read what you write. God is the author; you are the instrument. Such a magnificent lesson that you’ve illustrated – the more you let go, the more you receive.

    God’s blessings, Our Lady’s intercession, and the protection of St. Michael the Archangel be upon you all.

    Ken

    FYI – We’ve added your traveling companions to our weekly intentions for the Rosary,

    Like

  4. Rand Sargent says:

    Hey Brian, thanks for your most recent post. We truly do get to live with open hands along Christ’s Way, so let His Companionship keep reminding you to be aware of all the blessings He’s embedding for you and Grace every moment. Love You, My Brother. Rand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Camino Way 2016 Shimer says:

      Such a gift to read your words. Tough to be with grace at times and great at others. Praying we will end well. She and I part Friday morning. Rain adds a dimension. She doesn’t like it at all — well likes ran just doesn’t like being wet and soaked and cold and walking 12+ miles. Can’t blame her there!!! Love you!!!

      Like

  5. Dave Sullivan says:

    Brian…what a treat to return from our own journey to the east coast late last night to catch up on your journey…and WITH Grace. I cherish every word and lesson you’re sharing. We, indeed, are living vicariously through you. You’re touching more lives than you know. Love and blessings and special hugs to Grace.
    Brother Dave Sully

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Skip Heiney says:

    You’ve got nothing. You need nothing. The Camino provides… 17 day in and you’re getting it! This mystical experience is at once joyful and demanding, then providing, then allowing rest. When you get home, trust me, then will begin the ‘haunting’ of it all, the magnificent haunting of God’s Presence….

    Liked by 1 person

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