Last month Danette, told of her trip “The Camino de Santiago de Compostela”, also known in English as The Way of St James. For more than 1000 years pilgrims have been walking along the Camino de Santiago. The main Camino route is the Camino Frances. This part of the Camino de Santiago traditionally starts in St Jean Pied de Port and finishes in Santiago de Compostela about 780km later, after traveling the breadth of Northern Spain. This was the route of Danette. This is what I learned from her account of the 30 day trip.
As Danette spoke I likened her journey- all on foot, to my life. Her pilgrimage way was marked by “shell” signs or yellow arrows along the way. These trail markers were what she needed to stay on the right track to reach her destination. Danette talked about getting up early and at times starting with as many as 200 other pilgrim walkers, yet find herself on the trail alone within a few hours. She spoke about the many times she got “off track” mostly in the cities where there were so many distractions that the subdued signs were easily overlooked. Danette spoke about how encouraged she was by the graciousness of strangers who would guide her back to the right path even though it was 3 -4 blocks out of their way.
Walking in the dark turned out to be a bigger fear than she had thought. Walking in the dark, or in the barrenness of the open hills and valleys the shell way signs were actually much easier to follow. She spoke of the barrenness of the desert area and her conversations with God who was her only traveling companion for most of the trail. When she spoke of how God sent comfort and rescue in the form of a fatherly older man when a pack of wild dogs threatened her in the early morning hours, her face lit up at the remembrance.
Danette spoke of how simple her life had become. Her only belongings for the trip had to fit into her back pack. The choice of walking companions also was important for this trip and required certain discernment. It was important to share walking time only with those that also had their eyes on the Lord and the completion of the goal in mind. Complainers that discouraged would not do.
It was interesting that taverns and hostels in the towns along the way provided discounted “pilgrim” prices for overnight stays and wonderful meals keeping the trek affordable. And, even though there were days when Danette questioned “Why did I do this”, she now says she is planning to go again.
To me this pilgrimage reinforced:
Living my life according to His will isn’t easy. (walking the walk)
- It’s harder to see His signs for me, when I’m distracted and “busy” in my life- like Danette was in the cities.
- We may all be “walking” together, but will always find times when we walk alone; illness, financial distress, emotional distress, death of a loved one or a relationship etc. Alone, on the path. Alone in the dark. Alone in the chaos of living.
- When we get off the path, especially if our hearts are searching for the right way, God will provide someone to come into our lives to help us back to the right path. We have to be “open” to listen. Just as Danette was when she accepted the ride from the fatherly stranger.
- It’s always difficult to walk in the dark. Whether a literal dark road or our road during dark times. It is during those dark times and when we walk through the barrenness of life… that we are closer to God and he communes with us. It is when we are in a simpler state of being that we “hear” God.
- Then there are times in our life when no matter how hard we try, the fear and the real dangers of the world would overcome us – God sends in the rescue team. Angels in disguise? Perhaps. Or, the words of a Christian man or women whose heart and mind are in tune with the Lord. Praise Him for his daily deliverances.
- When Danette described how her life consisted of the simple but necessary items in her back pack. The importance of traveling “light” – but having the right clothing. Spoke volumes about how we overcomplicate our lives with “things”. Things that have needs. Everything we own needs care and takes time… How much time do I devote to the “care” of items that in the big scope of things are really needless?
- When you have a certain and rather strenuous goal in mind it is really important who you choose as a traveling companion. How much more important is it to choose your daily life friends and spouse? – Heart for God… right frame of mind… similar values? Light back pack or heavy?? Encouraging walking partners or daily discouragement?
- And, as the towns people took care of the pilgrims with hearty yet affordable meals and the overnight lodgings were clean, affordable and available… God always provides to us the riches of His grace and mercy and strength to allow us to complete our pilgrimage here through the earthly territories.
- Have you ever gone through a terrible trial, and found God to be so close to you when in the midst of the troubles. Yet you question “why me” why now” why God?”… Then when the travail is over and you look back… It is the closeness of the Lord the love you felt in His presence, the warmth of His touch and whispered encouragement that says… “yes, I’d do this again”. Just like Danette who says she is now looking forward to doing this trip again.