Thursday, December 23, 2010

Constant vigil

This is our 8th day on the camino. J and I have walked many cities and towns. If I am to summarize my experience so far, I will tell you with smile that I am incredibly happy. Though, finding ways to one´s inner self can sometimes be a tricky thing. For instance, we find ourselves completely relying on camino way markings, especially those arrows marked by fellow pilgrims who have walked before us. Sure, there are many official markings to direct us but in between those, I am convinced one can get lost without unofficial markings. It gets even harder in the big cities to maintain your focus (go figure) and find markings you need, as they are obscured by many traffic signs, business signs, etc. So we need to be vigilant. This not only applies to finding one´s way but also to other aspects of this experience. While I am not 100% clear on the reason for this camino, I do not wish it only to be a physical experience. I felt a welling of sadness when I started out from St. John on the first day. In my haste to leave, I forgot to sit and dedicate the day. How easy it is to ignore the really important part of the experience! Also, an aching body is a constant companion on the camino, especially, for me, those days with 15 miles or more. I was at the end of my limit this afternoon. The bodily pain feels so real and so urgent! Of course, you do everything that everybody tells you; drinking lots of water, take care that you sleep well, or, take a day off if you feel pushed, etc. I knew that the issue of bodily pain would be there until we reach Santiago; it is not a matter of choice but you just have to find ways to deal with it. I thought about what St. Paul had to say. He heard Jesus said ¨My Grace is sufficient for you´´ (2 Corinthians 12:9) upon asking his bodily infirmity to release him. I also thought about what Thomas Merton said that we should not reduce our identity only to our 5 bodily sensory system. So for now, this is how I deal with my aching body. I tell mysel that I am not just my body. As Jesus suggested to me that I shouldn´t get all worked up by it because a body is just a body. Instead, I wish to keep a constant vigil that I may hear God regardless on my bodily condition.
.....speak to me Lord, your servant is listening.....


  1. Am enjoying reading your accounts and seeing all your very 'wintry' photos.
    You have had some quite long days- maybe you are feeling tired because your body needs a few shorter ones? I think when it is cooler, it is easy to drink too little- and sometimes I wonder if the days I found inexplicably 'hard' were partly as a result of not drinking enough the day before.
    Best wishes for Christmas, and the New Year.

  2. John and Robin,

    It is early morning Christmas in Spain and still Christmas Eve in the US. Hopefully, you are sleeping peacfully before celebrating a beautiful Christmas morning.

    Oddly enough we are viewing your posts on an airplane bound to Salt Lake and then on to Saint Louis to visit our family in Illinois.

    Your trek looks wonderful as well as challenging as you describe. May you have a well-deserved and joyful rest for Christmas.

    With love,
    Roger and Debbie

  3. Dear Robin and John,

    Now that Roger has learned how to leave a post, I'll offer this Christmas present from Rabia of Basra (c. 717-801, female Sufi poet). May this soothe your pain.

    "Show me where it hurts, God said, and every cell in my body burst into tears before His tender eyes. He has repaid me for all my suffering in a way I never wanted: The sun is now in homage to my face, because it knows I have seen God. But that was not his payment. The soul cannot describe His gift. I just spoke about the sun like that because I like beautiful words, and because it is true: Creation is in homage to us."

    Healing love,

  4. This is a great reflection! I am enjoying "walking" vicariously with you! Keep on treking!
    Amy S.