Back in 2015, I was planning to walk the Camino de la Santiago the next year, the 500-mile trek across Northern Spain. Since I hoped to begin to journal through the blog on that walk, I began this and titled it “Camino Walk 2016.”
When I titled it, I thought it would just be a blog for the journey. But, this blog turned into its own camino. The word camino, way or path, seems a good name to adopt in the path of life. For we are all on a journey, a daily walk.
Everything that happens then becomes part of the journey. The grocery store, the bank, the walk through the neighborhood, petting the cat next door all of these become parts of the walk. This is how I have approached this blog, that all of life is a camino and all of it fits in how I interact with this world.
When I walked the actual camino in 2016, I adopted the phrase “Stay with your Feet,” to remind me day by day to not rush ahead nor lag behind in thoughts of regret or sadness the place where my feet walked. This lesson was the most challenging. It proved incredibly difficult to dwell in the present in how I thought. I would rush ahead of those feet wondering what life would look like when I returned home.
Or, I would be far behind myself, like I was just a second ago in my head as I suddenly was back in November 2016 just arriving home. With sudden regret, I wished I had returned with clarity on how to encapsulate and teach my people about the camino. But, when I returned, I could not even talk about it. It was too mysterious, too big for language, too much to contain. Indeed, I returned full of tears! My heart could no longer pretend. I could not cover over feelings or paste a smile on my face. All the pain that had been within my heart was just beneath the surface. So, my camino after returning was to “cry it out.” And I did, indeed, I had no choice.
Being present where I am is a hard lesson in life. It seems like it would be the most obvious and the easiest in a way. But try it. Try actually pulling your thoughts back from the future or out of the past into where you actually are, now, today as you read this.
Indeed, what were you just thinking about a second ago? That conversation last night? Or the flop of a dinner party? Or what might happen tomorrow?
Pulling our thoughts back from worry or regret is a crucial work in this life. I found as I walked the camino, my feet hurt all 500 miles. The pain helped me stay present. Pain is a great alarm system. It makes the present very real. I could not forget where my feet were. No matter how I stretched, soaked, rubbed, or sought to improve them, they hurt. But even with the gift of pain, still, I had trouble staying with them. I needed the constant reminder of pain to pull me back out of the future or the past into the present.
As I walked, I learned from fellow pilgrims the adage, “The Camino Provides.” Indeed, God did show up in remarkable ways, through the people with whom to walk, timely conversations, gifts along the way, beautiful meals.
I remember once when I got cash out for the next several days from the ATM, it wouldn’t give me my cash. So, I retrieved my card and walked away. The man behind me however, found that after I’d left, the machine had delivered my 300 Euros. Instead of keeping the cash, he followed me across the street and knocked on the door he had seen me enter. It was an airbnb where I was staying with a family. A lively conversation in Spanish ensued at that door. My hostess came and got me telling me in English he had brought my money. She also scolded me for leaving it in the ATM! I was astounded. The ATM had not worked, I thought. In life, this is also true. There is provision along the way. God is always at work in and through and around us, and provides for us as we walk moment by moment, day by day on our current camino.
So, step by step in life I am on this camino still. This daily walk of practicing to stay with my feet, engaging with the gifts strewn along the way.
- I walked with several people as they stepped out of places of brokenness into hope. It is such a privilege to guide others into healing!
- I recorded my weekly “Moment in God’s Word” video on my YouTube channel. I present a short scripture passage and ask questions to help others ponder and apply it to their lives. It has been rewarding to meditate on a story a week myself, and to see how God uses these simple moments to bless the lives of others watching them.
- I prepared a story to present during the start of another Simply The Story class I am helping lead with students from across the USA.
- I met a young guy who is a coworker with another good friend of mine. After hearing this man’s story, I offered to pray for him. As I prayed for this man’s situation, a picture came to mind of all these strings floating around off of his body, so I prayed God would tie up all the loose ends he is experiencing in his heart and life. As I closed out my prayer and looked up, the man looked back at me and said: “This morning as I drove to work I was pray-yelling in my car about this situation and part of what I yelled was how frustrating all the loose ends were to me. Things just do not get resolved. Then, when you just prayed for those loose ends, I knew how much God does hear my heart. Thank you.” What a God!
- I enjoyed some baking! I am practicing recipes to use for our daughter’s wedding, next month. She wants some lemon-poppyseed cupcakes, some dark chocolate decadent dessert, and some peanut butter cookies (the groom’s favorite) instead of a traditional wedding cake.
- I read more in several books: Unoffendable by Brant Hansen, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age by the Dale Carnegie Group, Dragon Slayers by Randall A. Terry, and Talking to Crazy, by Mark Goulston.
Reading the thoughts of the 2nd century Marcus Aurelius reminds me what a gift it is to read old books. I can bring perspective to the writer’s thoughts and be challenged by them. He was a brilliant guy, so no wonder his Meditations are still published. Listen to this brief thought: “So it would take an idiot to feel self-importance or distress. Or any indignation, either. As if the things that irritate us lasted.” I nodded and said, “Right!”
Marcus held to the philosophy of the Stoics, but drank from many philosophical streams. He believed the logos was a life force flowing through everything. When John penned the prologue to his Gospel he spoke into this school of thought as he penned, “In the beginning was the Word (logos) and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning…” (John 1:1).
So, this is part of my current camino. Stay with your feet as you are walking yours!