Our final walk for this Camino. According to guidebook, this stretch will be 25.6km/15.4miles (Fitbit = 26.9km/16.8miles). We started early at 7.25am. Fortunately, we had scouted the evening before, as there’s a paucity of Yellow Arrows in Padron center. Even the few that we spotted were faded with age.
As this is the ‘home stretch’, we will be more contemplative and spiritual during this walk. Thus, this posting will not be on the sights.
We met up again with the three executives from a global company today, who were on the Camino for the walk and the fellowship. They were also having deep discussions about issues of the day. We had first met up two days earlier, and I alluded to the lunch time discussions with them in an earlier post. I was able to walk and chat with one of them for a bit, he’s Swiss. While he was raised as a Protestant, over time, his conviction and prevalent world view, is that what’s key, is the good that one does. Rationality has served Mankind well, with the fruits of science and technology. But Mankind has also created global scaled problems and inequities. There’s a Spiritual aspect to Life. Faith is a gift and a grace. It’s a gift that’s freely given to one who asks and/or seeks it.
I decided to apply Stephen Covey’s concept of roles in Life for my contemplation. I have a number of roles – disciple, father, husband, son/brother, etc. For each role, I spent meditative time on two aspects. Firstly, what is the dream and aspiration I desire in said role. Secondly, where have I fallen or taken a mis-step. Latter will help input into the confession that I intend to make at Santiago.
I will share the power of dreams and aspirations. In my last employment company, I had written on paper the goals I had in said company. Within a year, I achieved one of these goals. To this day, that achievement put my entire family on a Life Path whose trajectory was beyond our family’s imagination at that time.
Part of my reflection was a recognition that my Type A Personality affects and influences my own discipleship and spiritual understanding and development. Type A desires to solve problems, to achieve, to gain that personal satisfaction of achieving something concrete, to lead. The Swiss Executive echoed this, as I sensed (and intuitively confirmed) that all three executives are Type A as they wanted to ‘discuss and figure out approaches/solutions’ to life’s issues and challenges. My Eureka moment when I juxtaposed the Personality with Discipleship was to recognize that perhaps I don’t need to achieve anything in this world for Jesus/God, that gaining a personal relationship with Jesus was the purpose of my Life. That many others have become spiritual intercessionary warriors for family and friends. That’s the example of Jacinta and Francisco, the two Fatima children who left Earth early to go to Heaven. Their intercessionary prayers changed lives among the people that came across their path.
I love to solve problems. But I now realize and accept that God doesn’t need my help (He may have a supporting/background role for me).
The Camino has slowly built in me an appreciation, an awe and immeasurable gratitude at the gift of Life. As I contemplated on the life and examples of Saints, I thought of Mother Teresa (aka Saint Teresa of Calcutta). Mother Teresa’s legacy can be seen in the legions of Sisters of Calcutta who now serve the poorest of the poor. However, Mother Teresa’s first charitable act was to the dying on the street. She didn’t see them as problems to solve, to either get them medical attention, or to stop the systematic poverty cycle. She wanted them to know that someone cared and loved them, that they had the dignity of Life. That they had worth and meaning. Our world will be Paradise when everyone values the dignity of Life that everyone possess. We do not need to wait for Heaven.
The Camino is intentionally hard, as it has to scrub down any over-blown Ego that a Camino Pilgrim begins the walk with. A healthy Self Esteem will not leave room for Brother Ego to occupy, but a weak Self Esteem will allow Brother Ego to enter, and thus, treat others with less than what Jesus commands, ‘Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself’. I recognize my Ego, my Pride causes me to take umbrage at perceived slights. It’s time to boot Brother Ego out of my heart.
So, we come to the Final Exams. What have we truly internalized, that will be our armor when we return to a world, full of temptations?
- Be a Minimalist. We coped on the Camino with just our backpack. There was not much else needed to enjoy the Journey we experienced. Likewise, there’s not much else needed to Live & Love with all one’s heart.
- Slow One’s Pace. We cannot live in the moment, when our minds are racing to the next thing, when our inner clock guilts us NOT to linger for those beautiful moments un-folding. I did not wear a watch during the Camino, and we didn’t ‘target’ to reach milestones or destinations by specific times.
- Lighten Oneself for Life’s Camino. One way I am lightening my baggage is to recognize and ‘manage’ my Type A Trait. Another way is getting the Sacrament of Absolution. We all have our Emotional/Relationship/Spiritual backpack. Look in there, take out that stinking rotting fish, and throw it away!
- Give Thanks. We are not where we are, solely due to our own efforts. Our parents, our family, our spouses/partners, our children help us get where we now are. For those with Faith, all we have comes from God. Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Finally, our pace was such that we arrived at Santiago de Compostela Cathedral at 3pm, the Hour of Mercy. We celebrated with a Divine Mercy prayer at the courtyard.
May your Camino be blessed, may your Journeys be Holy Spirit-inspired.