Holy Week 2018
The other day I was reminded by a friend of a few truths to be found while walking the Camino de Santiago. It was in a blog post entitled: Overpacking, Stones, and Strangers – The Camino to Easter, by Mel Soriano on his blog Let All Who Are Thirsty Come. The interesting thing, at least to me, is that I got what the author was talking about as soon as I read the title. Having walked the Camino twice these are clear messages.
The author spoke about the need to travel lightly, to let go of burdens and to be open to strangers. To these I would add another insight of my own: it’s your walk. While walking 500 miles in a country one does not know and where the dominant language is one you do not speak, you learn a lot about yourself and life.
The first lesson, to travel lightly, is there because anything you carry, you carry for a long time, so chose carefully what you take with you on the journey. Traveling lightly makes the journey a joy and not a burden.
The second lesson, to release the stones, is about letting go of burdens that you no longer need to carry. On the Camino there is a cross on a mountaintop where one can let go of suffering you carry in the form of a stone you have brought from home. Letting go of what you no longer need to carry allows you to walk with clear confidence into the future and it makes that future all the brighter.
The third lesson, to embrace the stranger, is a reminder that who we encounter in life and how we encounter them changes us. The Camino is all about meeting fellow pilgrims and sharing the journey with them, learning from them, leaning on them and supporting them when that is best. Life is rich and full when shared with others.
Finally, my additional truth from the Camino is to let it be your walk. There are many ways to walk the Camino and no way is better than another. Some ways are harder, some ways allow more space, some open us to dimensions of the way that can only be known fully as we encounter the walk. They are all blessings.
I write these words in Holy Week as we Christians walk the way of the cross with Jesus. Life, I believe, is to be lived as a journey to God. Jesus walked to Jerusalem and along the way he met and befriended many individuals, he heard their pain and suffering, he healed those he encountered and invited them to live in God’s Realm. We are also invited to walk the way of the cross, and to do so by traveling lightly, releasing the stones, embracing the stranger and remembering that it is your unique journey to God.