Reflections on the Journey

IMG_2397I awoke this morning thinking of all I have learned and remembered so far on this journey.

By day three my pack was part of my body. I knew the rhythm of my walk and felt the comfort of the pack as we reached higher elevation. We each have to assess our own pack, our pace, our rhythm. No matter how many people you attach to even if you do this journey alone or with a group you alone know your capacity and must respond to this awareness. This is a life lesson as we find comfort in relationship with one person or a group of friends. Taking the time to be with the inner voice of guidance and trusting the ground of knowing advances us in ways that support our whole being.

We know and we don’t know. As I think back on my first introduction to this trip,

I remember my “No” to the invitation. A year later, with the reduction in miles I decided I would go for Di but also for myself. I had to make the trip for me to be satisfying. And I did, but I rarely told anyone I was going. The trip had an unreal feel. A month before we left, I told Di that whenever I thought of the trip I saw us in hotels with a suitcase not a backpack. My intuition initially said, “no” but then it said, “yes” as I could not let Di go alone. I feel I am exactly in the right place and fluidity, adaptability, trusting, rather than holding on to my original belief have allowed me to be here.

“Keep you thoughts raised high.” From the poem Ithaka which spoke to me for the journey. Each day we are surrounded by people who are helpful, caring, eager for connection, and add joy to our spirit. It is not everyone but to those I offer a silent blessing and move on. There is something special about the Camino. There is an energy that moves you along with the blessings of many who offer greeting along the way. If we could bring this spirit of greeting each other, acknowledging the pilgrim, peregrino, that we each are, could we not uplift the face of humanity? We have met the face of Korea, Australia, Japan, Germany, Peru, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, and many more from around the world. These are the real people, this is the real energy of life and love, not the face of the angry politician. Whatever our religious or spiritual beliefs we are all traveling the road of life and we forget that we are all in this together. We need each other to bring us along.

Choose your companions wisely.

Spiritual masters encourage carefulness in who we travel this life path with. People who allow you to follow your inner guidance, help ‘keep your thoughts raised high,’ support you in finding and being your own true self. In the challenging moments it is good to find what we can be grateful for and allow laughter and song to keep us willing to continue on. We don’t want to be traveling with less. We have had good companions on this journey.

There is no one sure pure way to walk the Camino.

As I read forums to prepare for this trip, there were individuals who offered their way of doing the journey, how to pack, how to carry your pack, where to sleep and on. There are discussions that anything less is not the true pilgrim way. We do the same thing with religion, states, countries, clothing, whatever the object might be, what we know appears best for all. Diane’s legs no longer work to move forward on but we are moving forward with all the Camino has to offer. We have met daily people who have started and ended the journey in various locations. They are all headed to Santiago whether this year or another. We meet people who pack a suitcase and have it portered, those who carry everything on their back, those who do not want to know where they will sleep and those who book a year ahead. The Camino is not about the pack or the road or the bed but what is in your heart and how you offer that heart to others. How we care for each other and serve in our own unique ways. My son, Brian, reminded me this morning in his response what my dad, his grandpa, an old train master, would say, “life isn’t about the tracks, but the switches that move us forward, one track to another.” Thank you dear Brian for this reminder of words that had deep meaning to your grandpa but we only now profoundly understand.

What I brought has served me well.

I gave a lot of thought to what I would carry on my back. I eliminated some items I wish I had but knew weight would be important for me. There is nothing new about thinking about excess but it is so very evident when you are perfectly happy with 16 lbs on your back to meet your daily needs besides food and water. Some have gotten that down to 10 lbs but I am not going there. We have met people who have now moved into a small condo so they can keep walking the world. There is some comfort in feeling the freedom of less and knowing it is possible whether we live it day to day or not.

Walking the world

It is quite amazing to make the statement, “We are only doing 12 miles today.” When there is a destination, when there are stops along the way with food and water and people wishing you well all along the way and you have a bed to sleep in at night with a good meal it is very possible and desirable. Being out each day in nature and walking, not being the one zooming down the road at 70 mph feels so very good. Surprisingly good. One step after another. Looking. No thought of to do’s. It is a good way to live. I am a novice and watching people prance up and down these hills is humbling, not just the young but in years greater than mine. People who walk.

The Blessing of Patient People

Each day we have been blessed with people who are patient in our fumbling with language. From finding out what happened to Rob and Bev, to finding our lodgings, to calling a taxi, on and on. There is no greater gift than being patient with each other and no greater challenge at times. It is a virtue that drives everything and allows for compassion and resilience as we are first patient with ourselves.

Finally, from Frederic Gros, when we walk, “None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here.” This knowledge might help me identify the bird or tree or use a phone in a foreign land but it will not give me presence, awe, gentleness, compassion, patience or peace of heart. For those, I need the space and the willingness to allow the “still small voice within” (Gandhi) to guide and uplift from “the spring of life,” the heart. “Wherever I am there is God.” (Eckhardt)

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