By: Mary Maddox, your fellow pilgrim
So, what is in your pack. What are you carrying along your Camino (life)? We each are on our own journey, each carrying our own stone. Who knows what the pilgrim walking next to you is carrying in his or her heart? Who knows the burdens they are carrying? That's why we, as fellow pilgrims, must welcome and greet each other like brothers and sisters in Christ. Only He knows how many stones each one of us is carrying. So we try to walk our Camino as we should walk through our lives, with acceptance, humility, knowledge, love, mercy and compassion.
The lessons we learn along the Camino de Santiago teach us how to live our lives with all of these virtues. We just need to remember to take these lessons home with us. Leave nothing behind!
Some of these lessons are simple ones....like accepting that we all walk at our own pace.... that our journeys are ours to enjoy in our own way. On my last Camino, I was walking with a friend. She walked fast. And because I was a bit slower, I called her the City Mouse and me the Country Mouse. What's funny is that she lives outside New York City and I am from the mountains of North Carolina. So we were definitely on our own Camino journey in our own way. We respected each other enough to not expect the other to change her city or mountain ways. Some days she walked slower and we shared stories, laughter and advice. Other days we walked alone to have our own private prayer time with the Lord. Isn't that how we need to accept others in our daily lives.....respecting them enough to let them walk their journey at their own pace, respecting them enough to not expect them to change unless they choose to do so. And finally to be present with them in the here and now....to find joy there.
On the Camino, weight becomes a priority. The rule is to not carry more than 10% of your body weight. You don't want extra weight and the burden of carrying it. And here too we see our daily lives happening. It's inevitable that we begin to think about the other kinds of weight we are carrying and hopefully begin to lay those personal burdens down. If we do shed a burden or two, it means we can walk with a lighter step, and have the lightness of being that we crave. Letting go and letting God take our burdens is possible. I found that wonderful truth on my Camino. I know you can drop them into His hands just as I did.
As you walk the Camino, you completely put your trust in the Lord. Especially when you have no reservations and end up finding a place to sleep when you arrive in town. I had this experience my first Camino. My son, Cale and his friend Cody and I were walking into O Pedrouza. This is the town right before Santiago. We were told a few nights earlier by a fellow pilgrim that you might want to reserve your rooms from here to Santiago because the Camino is getting more crowded. This was the summer of 2013 and we were entering Santiago on the Feast day of St. James! Due to poor wifi we were unable to reserve rooms. When we arrived in O Pedrouza, after walking for six hours that day, we walked another two hours looking for a place to sleep. We finally went to the church, each of us to separate corners and prayed. After a little rest, we headed back into town to find a taxi and to find a place to sleep. As we were standing on the street a gentleman came up to us and asked if we needed a place to sleep. His pension just had a cancellation for a triple room, exactly what we needed. We were given a beautiful room in a beautiful pension. God is so good! I took this lesson home with me. If you really trust in God, He takes care of you. Sometimes we get in the way trying to figure things out, but all I can say is truly trust. It might not be the exact answer you are looking for but He knows what we need. Just like a parent, He takes care of our needs not our wants!
These are just a few of my insights. So much more is waiting to be shown to you. Everyone's Camino is their own Camino. Pilgrims who have walked before you can share their experiences and give advice and that is valuable. But you will have your own spiritual experience. Different. But valuable to those around you.
There is a quote I have always liked and though I don't have it in front of me, it goes like this.....
”for spiritual growth we all need three types of relationships in our lives. We need those who are ahead of us to guide us, those who are on the path with us to share our journey with and those who are coming along behind us whom we can encourage.”
Yes every pilgrim needs to listen, every pilgrim needs to pray, every pilgrim is walking this Camino of life...going forth to find God.
Your fellow pilgrim, Mary Maddox