Friday, June 19, 2015

What's Not to Love?

The Rev. Nancy E. Gossling

This will be my last post specifically about the Camino, although I know future references will occasionally pop up like Spanish broom. It’s been 10 days now since I’ve been back. The transition from walking the Camino to walking Cambridge is finished. I’ve moved on; I’m now walking Cape Cod! What became clearer to me while living, working, and studying in Ireland and Spain in 2013 is that walking has become a prayer discipline for me. Clearer in 2014 was that transitions are hard, multi-faceted, and they involve more than just you. This year in 2015, I realize that my life as a pilgrim is a life-long vocation. Life is a journey, always. And what’s not to love about our life’s journey, no matter where we put down our soles and our souls?

What’s not to love about being a pilgrim on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela Spain? Aside from the blisters, sore muscles, and painful joints, there are pilgrims who face difficult weather, no sleeping accommodations, and ornery companions….there’s a lot not to love on a pilgrimage; and yet even the painful times are worth loving.

The Camino is an intentional pilgrimage. Some people walk for religious or spiritual reasons; others for the pure physical challenge of it. There is the joy of accomplishment, no matter how much you walk. There is the opportunity to slow down and immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature, to experience the love of family and friends. The Camino offers the blessing of being surrounded by a people and culture that welcomes the stranger with open arms and hearts, with good food and wine, with fiestas of music and dance. What’s not to love about these things?

To have no intentions at all invites a life that is swayed by undesirable forces, or another person’s agenda, or a life that blows where the Spirit wills.

Many pilgrims walk the Camino with intentions. It may be a mission of reconciliation, a time of transition from one stage of life to another, a time to offer prayers of gratitude for a successful surgery, prayers of hope for cancers in remission, or to cherish and honor memories of loved ones who have moved on to the greater Life. Some people come with one intention and leave with another. Upon departure, they say, “I really am going to stop doing this, or I will start doing more of that.” We all have the credentials to speak, to pray, to forgive, and to move on.

The gift of seeing with fresh eyes and deeper insights into one’s relationships (with people and things) can come with a change in one’s living environments. One cannot walk the Camino, and I would argue anywhere, without gaining something. On the Camino, new realities are realized. Wider perspectives are gained. Blisters aren’t the only signs of “hot spots”, whether they’re on our feet, in our relationships, or the world. A yellow arrow isn’t the only sign pointing the way forward; sometimes it’s a man with a harmonica or a white van ready to take you to your next stop. There are signs along the Way to “Be the Change” you want.

What’s not to love about the Camino? What’s not to love about Life? What’s not to love about walking the Way of God no matter where you put down your soles or your souls? I say, “Nada and Buen Camino!”