Monday, September 21, 2009
For over a thousand years pilgrims have been walking the Camino de Santiago. Tomorrow I leave for Spain. After spending a few days with my wife’s relatives in Santander, I’ll make my way to St. Jean Pied de Port, France where I will begin a 33 day nearly 500 hundred mile walk across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, following in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, María de Lourdes Ruiz Scaperlanda (my wife), Christopher and Mary Scaperlanda (my son and daughter-in-law), and countless others. For the first two and a half weeks, I’ll walk alone and look forward to meeting other pilgrims and those who will provide us hospitality. For the rest of the trip, I’ll be joined by two good friends from Austin.
Why the pilgrimage?
In our book, The Journey: A Guide for the Modern Pilgrim, María says:
When we make a conscious decision to live in the present moment by embracing each day, each person we meet, each situation in front of us, we are like Mary in her “Fiat,” saying “yes” to the graces that God has for us today and every day. In the words of St. Ignatius, we step out with trust that “everything has the potential of calling forth in us a more loving response...” It is this distinctive choice that makes us pilgrims in our everyday lives.
I can only speak for myself, but fear, the desire to set and control my own agenda, time pressures, etc. keep me from living a life of total freedom as described above by my wife with a little help from St. Ignatius. A pilgrimage, like a retreat, is an opportunity for me to intentionally step outside normal everyday life to practice this type of openness to the graces in my life that so often go unrecognized. After reentering normal everyday life, I hope some of the lessons from the road will be retained.
2009-10 is transition period in many ways for me. I turn 50 next April. Our youngest child graduates from college next May. I have been teaching for 20 years. And, with a sabbatical this fall, I have from this past May until next January with no classes, dedicated time to devote to writing, and the opportunity to take an extended trip. In short, I feel called to let go of my normal routine to learn better how to live every moment in God’s love and grace. I wish for no rain, temperatures between the upper 40’s and low 70’s, no blisters or backaches, and wonderful welcoming people all along the way. But, that is not real life, and it won’t be real life on the Camino, so I pray to be open to whatever comes my way.
Please pray for me as make this pilgrimage. My fellow bloggers have consented to me posting my Camino reflections on the blog every few days, so I will keep you updated. My next post ought to come around the end of September.
“Lord, I am grateful. Forgive my ingratitude.”