I’m departing today from the stories that come directly from the Camino as a more personally compelling one has emerged.
Since my last post on risking vulnerability I have had something of a writers block as I lost all sense of why I am blogging at all. I have learned that this….writing the story of my Camino…. is all about risking vulnerability as I still struggle to publicly acknowledge how important God is in my life. This is my current lesson from the Camino of life, to let go of the fear that holds me back from declaring my commitment and deep love of God.
My god is a god of love, of compassion, of forgiveness and of non judgement and this is the God that flows in me when I allow it…Sometimes, I question why I need to do this, why can’t I keep this to myself, do I really have to say these things, do I really have to reveal so much and make myself feel so vulnerable? And for some reason the answer is, yes I do. I do it because I know it’s what I am meant to do. It’s the only way I will really have peace, I have to be willing to step into the ring and say this is who I am. I do it because it breaks my heart not to and for me this is what it means to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
As I see it all life lessons are about surrendering to God’s guidance, that deep spiritual knowing that is within all of us.
Over the next few days I crossed paths with different people as I began to find the rhythm of my Camino. On the 4th morning I met Manoel and Sue as we left the City of Pamploma. I had met them a day or two before and this morning we walked together. As the morning wore on I felt more and more exhausted and as they walked a little ahead of me I called to them and said “I’m going to have to give in”. As soon as I said it I knew that “giving in” was about more than just taking a rest. I went to sit down and contemplated what else was meant by that statement.
Well for a start I considered myself a good walker, not normally the one who is lagging behind. Manoel is 20 years older than me and at this point he is walking better than I am. Before this trip I had never considered the possibility that I would not walk every day, I never considered the possibility that I would not make each stage as laid out in John Brierley’s guide book and I had not considered it remotely possible that I might not reach Santiago on or before my target date of 28th September.
But I was discovering that walking day after day was tiring and that my muscles and tendons became sore and tight. Apart from the physical weight I was also carrying some very heavy emotions with me too and they were often more difficult to carry than the rucksack. So I was now having to consider what doing the Camino actually means and whether I would consider myself to have completed the Camino even if I didn’t walk all the way to Santiago! And at the same time I wanted to do my Camino, my way.
I was also conscious of all the other people I started out with and whether I was ahead of or behind them. I had a growing sense that in order for me to do my Camino I was going to need to let go of notions of keeping up and preoccupations about where I was in relation to pilgrims who had begun the same day as me. I may have to let others go ahead of me. I also saw this as a metaphor for life and living and that I was being challenged to let go of deeper perceptions, notions and ideas that any other person could ever be behind me or ahead of me or that I am ahead of, beside or behind anyone else. So the key challenge was to allow myself to walk my Camino at my pace and in my way as this mirrored the challenges of my own life and living.
When I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago, I was aware that I wanted to immerse myself in a holding container long enough for me to find out what is calling me. I had the sense that I was meant to be doing something else with my life and that I was holding back on what God had given me. In any event I knew my soul wasn’t being fully satisfied; there was a longing I needed to address. I hoped and indeed I expected the Camino to help me find the truth of that longing.
I realised before I left home that the Camino was about letting go and trusting I would be okay, although I couldn’t anticipate how the challenges would present themselves. But really the energy of the Camino started before I left Cork! The easy part was making the decision to go, a couple of months ahead of time it seemed no problem, I thought ‘I can’t wait’. However as the departure date got closer, I became more fearful, I was going to have to let go of whatever control I had in my life, my comfort, my livelihood, my emotional crutches and safety nets and surrender to the unfolding experience of Camino life.
So to go at all I needed to let go of what was familiar and face the vulnerability that arose in the absence of the crutches and the safety nets. That took courage and more importantly it took a level of belief in the possibility and of my own potential and trust in the universe. To grow requires a will to do so, no one said this would be easy but then neither is it easy to live life in the shadows.