Sunday, August 20, 2017

Going on pilgrimage ...

This coming week, Erudite Partner (EP) and I are joining up with Wise Friend (WF) to walk the Camino Primitivo, the "original" way across Asturias and Galicia in northern Spain. Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, the legendary burial site of the remains of St. James (the "son of Zebedee" James), has been undertaken by Christians and other wanderers since the 9th century. Two hundred seventy-seven thousand pilgrims made the trek one way or another last year.
Most of these contemporary pilgrims did not walk the Primitivo, the route we've chosen, a more rugged, hillier, somewhat shorter, and less developed 225 mile track instead of the more frequented Camino Frances. We wanted less crowds, more solitude. Let's just hope we don't also get more aching muscles and blistered feet.

So why do we go on pilgrimage? At root, just as with most things, we go because we can (afford this both in time and treasure) and because we want to (for the experience whatever that may prove to be.)

Thich Nhat Hanh suggests a mantra for walking:
"I have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell." Four lines guiding us in our practice of walking meditation. ... Let us flow like a river, generating peace with every step we make.
That seems about right. Once underway, we'll walk (usually 25 or more kilometers a day), wash clothes (essential when you only carry 2 sets on your back), eat (food is fuel ...) and sleep (soundly I expect). And then get up and do it again. For something like three weeks. What we'll learn, we'll learn.

During this past awful week of Charlottesville and Trump, in the Jesuit magazine America, Father Jim McDermott offered a spiritual exercise for the overwhelmed and exhausted which seems pertinent both to surviving the present tumult -- and to our pilgrimage.
... if we are not going to turn away, overwhelmed and exhausted, how are we to sort through this constant barrage of information and raw emotion? How do you continue to “bear witness” when every three or four days there is another crisis?

Faced with upheaval in U.S. society, with leaders who enable violence and oppression while others stand by silent, an invitation to prayer might sound like the spiritual version of palliative care—an attempt to address the pain but not the disease. But though the news cycle and each new outrage demand constant attention, to see what is really going on and to offer a thoughtful response we need not only to be able to enter in but to step back.

O God, I ask as I sit before CNN, Fox or my newsfeed: Where are you today? What do you want me to notice? What do you want me to see?
Oh God, I hope to ask as I walk across Spain, "Where are you today? What do you want me to notice? What do you want me to see?" That would be more than enough. Doing is for another time, for later ...

I don't know how much connectivity I'll have or want while on pilgrimage. Expect occasional photos but little else here.


Sandra de Helen said...

Two of the most amazing humans on this planet ... and I get to call both of you my friends. Have a wonderful experience!

Hattie said...

A friend of ours did the Compestela walk, and it really changed her. She is much more open and happier now.
I am looking forward to your reports on this grand endeavor!