Some reflections now I am home.
Why did I even think of going on the Camino?
I know that I love ‘to be’ in landscapes.
The idea of being immersed for so long in French/ Spanish culture,
history, and especially landscapes, appealed.
Plus there was the challenge: ‘Could I do it?’
day after day, for so long, with blisters, a heavy pack, difficult terrain, bad weather or hot temperatures…
And might I ‘sort out’ a little my muddled feelings about my Catholic heritage?
Could I do it and be joyful?
What happened while I was walking?
Joy. Gladness. Peace.
Happiness. An awareness of how fortunate I was to be experiencing this,
walking under such immense open skies
over time and seasons, through so many varied landscapes.
Living a life that had a simple daily rhythm
with time to notice the ‘little things’
to walk at dawn and notice spider webs laden with dew drops
to share the wet path with huge slugs
to be quiet in the glory of a sunrise
to see storks sitting on nests with their ever growing young
to marvel at the red of poppies in the wheatfields
to see vistas that stretched out far into the distance
and views from mountaintops that took my breath away
to be in the moment, on the earth
Experiencing friendship with others, briefly or for a longer time,
who were also learning about perseverance
and simplicity, rhythm and joy
walking in the outdoors, every day.
And knowing that the ‘church’ stuff made no more sense than it had at home:
some French churches seemed like mausoleums to a dead faith,
and Spanish ones were mostly closed,
or covered in gaudy baroque extravagance.
Though sometimes, hearing people sing in these old churches
brought awe and joy,
and in a few places, pilgrims from the past seemed to almost still be there with their reverence permeating the walls.
And what now, now that I am home?
I have a deep sense of thankfulness for the experience.
I thought a lot about people I know while I walked
and know that I need to treasure them as friends and family.
Long days of rhythmic walking have led me to know
that so many things we run around and do
are not important
are only stress-inducing
But the challenge of how to live an everyday working life and not be consumed by unimportant demands… has no obvious and immediate solution…..
Walking, deep in my heart, I knew joy.
But I found no ‘church’ place.
I am unlikely to go to Church much if at all,
I am likely to create chances to be in the outdoors, often.
I have many joyful memories.
And I know I have many near-by landscapes to explore
in a simpler life.
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