Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Companions on the journey

Every Camino is a gift and a blessing. Robin and I try to remain mindful of this throughout the journey. There is a wonderful Catholic song that I hear occasionally at mass called The Servant's Song. The words always strike me as appropriate as we prepare for pilgrimage. "We are pilgrims on a journey, we are travelers on the road. We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load."  Those words speak not just to the rigors of the road ahead, but also remind us of the importance of walking with humbleness and charity as our own personal Camino companions. This journey is long and complex enough to ensure we will need the help of others, at some point, for something. Being open to, and thankful for, the charity and kindness of strangers can, oddly enough, sometimes fall outside our comfort zone. Some might see an offer of help as an unpleasant reminder of a personal failure of some sort (inadequate planning, lack of foresight, who knows what). It is essential to approach the Camino free from those kinds of recriminations. Shedding the burden of self importance gifts us with a transcending grace that allows us to find joy both in receiving help from, and giving help to, those who unexpectedly enter our lives.

We walk by faith, not by sight, trying to be free from that all too human need to be in control of everything. The need to be masters of our destiny (good luck with that) is just one of many superfluous burdens we willingly leave behind. Externally, successfully walking the Camino requires careful attention to the weight of one's pack. Internally, that same accounting holds true for those many other burdens that can (and usually do) impede one's progress. The Camino teaches us about minimalism, about how to discern wants from needs. When we make poor choices our bodies suffer under an unnecessary physical burden. At all times, not just on the Camino, we have the opportunity to review the things we choose to "carry" and assess their burden. A wise person quickly learns what has value and what must be left behind. As we all walk our own pilgrim journeys we hopefully discover that the quality of our peace is actually measured in the quantity of unfulfilling wants left scattered behind us.

Less than two days to departure.

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