When we left Patricia, she wrote...
As I thought over the previous six days, I was struck by the variations for walking the Camino. Some walked solo, some in pairs, some in groups. Some couples walked hand in hand. Some groups parted and came together again at rest stops, or other bends in the road. I saw two companions with a piece of rope tied to each of them as they dragged their gear in a travel wagon. I saw another couple aiding each other as they carried their octogenarian bodies over rocky, rough spots. Other pilgrims walked when they could and caught a ride on the Lugo road when they tired. I spent one morning with a woman who walked all the way from France with a pack on her back. In contrast, I met a group of Canadians who had guides and a van. The van carried their bags, and the guides checked on them as they walked along, providing historic information about the specific area we were traveling through, and preparing picnic lunches in various shady groves. I treasured all encounters. So many variations on the Camino, echoing the variations in our human family.
And now, Part II of
"Buen Camino!":The Pilgrimage of a Secular Franciscan
by Patricia Dervish
At sunset I sat at the feet of St. Francis, part of the iconic monument in Monte de Gozo, and looked from the mountaintop to the city in the near distance, reflecting on my spiritual path. Each day I poised a question to myself, to hold in my heart, and in the sacred space of the journey. I had reflected on gratitude, on God’s treasures in the created world, on the sacrificial life, on penance, on surrender, on friendship, on gifts, on the balance of action and contemplation in my life, on peacemaking, on my unique sacred tasks, on the living presence of our God. On the mountaintop looking to Santiago, I was filled with joy and a profound sense of peace.
|The iconic monument on Monte de Gozo,|
where I reflected on my spiritual path.
I received the gift of gratitude. Great, great gratitude for all that is, all that has been, and all that is to come. I was, and am now, so grateful for the strength and endurance of my body, for the kind “friends for the road” that I met along the way, for every bit of food and water offered so generously by the Galicians, for all of creation that sang to me, buzzed around me, sheltered me in downpours, cushioned me in falls, for the gifts of joy and love that the Spirit offered through each one I met. Thank you, God, thank you.
I was gifted with a deeper understanding of myself and my life. The Franciscan Rule calls us to a radical inner conversion. I embraced that call even more deeply on the Camino, understanding more fully the lessons of one of my spiritual teachers that a radical inner conversion will reorganize my internal reality, reorder my relationships, and redirect my path as it unfolds before me.
The Camino taught me that the path is made as we walk it. I didn’t know the Camino before I got on it. I didn’t know what I would encounter, despite some great pictures shared by pilgrims on the social networks. And despite the fact that I have been a long distance walker for a long time, my physical training for the pilgrimage did not go well. I broke a bone in my back in one fall, radically dislocated a finger in a second, and seriously bruised both knees in a third. I felt out of shape and fragile and doubted my ability to walk even seven miles, let along seventy. But I learned, once again, that we don’t have to show up for the tasks of life in perfect shape. We just need to show up. We just need to be there, be present, and be ready to take the next steps as God unfolds them.
|Everyone enjoyed the kind hospitality of the locals, |
who provided for us in simple but meaningful ways.
God felt so present on the Camino. Perhaps this is why Jesus retreated often to the wilderness. Most of the days I spent in silence, since October is not a busy pilgrimage month. The silence outside opened the space inside. Without the usual duties, demands, and distractions of life I became profoundly aware of the presence of God all around me. I experienced a sense of moving beyond myself into the arms of our loving God.
|Protective Grace took my hand |
as I found myself alone
in a forest for what seemed
to be a very long time.
If you would like further information about Patricia's pilgrimage or how you can plan your own pilgrimage along The Way of St. James, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.