Thursday Padron to Santiago (Day 11)

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.

Post Camino Walk – June 4, 10 days later

We are back in Seattle, recovering from jet lag. Ben caught a cough on the morning of our flight back to Seattle from Amsterdam on May 31. Fortunate that it happened at the very tail end of our trip and Camino pilgrimage.

I had planned a ’30 days after’ posting to see how we are internalizing the pilgrimage experiences. So, this will be a short(er) post based on some reflections on the flight home. In addition, I realized that I had not correctly categorized the vast majority of Camino postings in Portugal/Spain, which I fixed this morning. So, apologies to those who were clicking on the ‘2018 Camino Portugues’ link and found the cupboard bare.

Time – We are all equal in the 24 hours that we all are blessed with each day. We are all unequal in how we use it. We either wisely use it, or mainly squander it (un)consciously.  It’s impossible to be absolutely disciplined about every second, every minute, every hour. We need to create our own mechanisms to Seize the Day. For those of us retired from the rigors of a working schedule, consider sprinkling an hour of xx, an hour of yy, an hour of zz throughout the day. For those still working, sprinkle half hours or 15 mins of xx, yy and zz. It will be amazing how these seeds will blossom over time. For me, reading, walking, praying, relating, playing are starter xx’s, yy’s and zz’s.

Healing – Completed reading a short book after returning to Seattle (which I had started before the Camino). It’s called, ‘Everybody needs to forgive somebody’ by Allen R Hunt. It has 12 stories of people in situations, a story or two may mirror moments in our lives. I decided that it was important for me to continue seeking forgiveness from those that I perceived I had hurt. So, I took that step. Forgiving oneself was also addressed in this book!

Living the Camino – Many Camino pilgrims come to realize that their Camino did not end at Santiago de Compostela, but their Camino journey carries on when we return to our daily living. To carry the Camino inside us, requires us to look objectively at the habit leeches that have crawled under our skins, into our minds, and created a way of living that we have become accustomed to.  We need to wield the surgeon’s scalpel and remove these habit leeches. These latter creatures are very personal, to an individual, to how a couple relate and engage in life.

  • I walked barefoot on the grass this morning. I cannot remember the last time, but it can’t be years or months, can it?
  • I talked to Mrs. Peaches in the garden this morning. I noticed 3 small fruits on the way. But I was troubled by signs of distress, which I verified later on the Net. Mrs. Peaches needs some TLC.
  • We dropped in the library to check out the latest offerings. We both gravitated to different genres. Mine could be a bit more solemn than I prefer right now, but I listened to my gut.   🙂

 

As I end this post, let share something that happened on our last walking day to Santiago. As you probably have noted, we had become quite attuned to nature and life around us. As we walked through an open stretch of trail from a wooded section, I noticed two butterflies. This sight was particularly unusual because the two butterflies were dancing with each other. They were flying with each other, in swirls and circles. If you haven’t seen this before, it’s a sight to behold. I pointed them out to Joon, and we marveled at this sight. We then rounded a corner and started going uphill. When I heard some other walkers coming around the corner, I could hear some sounds of delight. Lo and behold, it was two ladies dancing together, prancing forward and twirling their walking poles. What a perfect gift from above, to mark our Camino.

 

Dancing thru life

Will you dance with me through life?

Closure to Camino Portugues

It has been 3 months home since completing the Camino Portugues in late May. We returned to Europe in July for a niece’s wedding and some vacationing. Europe’s rich culture and heritage is such a joy to experience.

The beauty of the Camino experience was the simplicity of life on the Camino. One woke up in the morning, washed up, had breakfast, packed and started walking to the next destination. There was no cable news to catch up, no necessity to check social media. This simplicity was brought home again in several  dialogs in the movie, ‘Christopher Robin’.

Winnie The Pooh: Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something.

This dialog captures what happens on the Camino. Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something. That best kind of something is how you will live life. We don’t have to wait for a Camino, but a weekend, a day off in the work week, can lead to that best kind of something, right?

Winnie The Pooh: I must go forward where I have never been instead of backwards where I have

It seems to me that this speaks of the risks of reminiscing about the Camino. Calvin and Hobbs don’t spend time re-living past adventures, but are off to the next great adventure. Memories can hobble one, or can be jumping boards.

Winnie the Pooh: Christopher Robin, what day is it?

Christopher Robin: It’s today.

Winnie the Pooh: Oh, my favorite day.

Christopher Robin: Mine too, Pooh. Mine too.

I loved this. Truth hits you in the face, doesn’t it? There’s no need to gloss, varnish or decorate it. Suffice, to say, today is ours. Even now, I relish this time, writing this post to reflect so I can put my foot forward.

Minimalizing drums into us, step by step, when we carried our backpacks along the Camino. Any new item that was to be carried had to be of value for the journey, and thus, food and drinks easily passed the test. Not so for other items. It became an attitude, a mind set that we could do without. How did we nurture this when returning to city life with non-stop advertisements? We decided that we will use credit cards only when required, e.g. at gas stations, membership warehouses and the rare occasions for Internet purchases. It’s funny but paying cash as a primary method became ‘fun’ again. Somehow, the brain gets lulled back to childhood days, when one weighed multiple times the value/benefits (opportunity costs?) before handing over the cash. This psychological impact creates a virtuous cycle, using cash lessens the urge to buy un-necessarily. It definitely reduces impulse buying if one limits buying with available cash in one’s wallet. Obviously, side stepping Prime Day, Black Friday, Sales Day becomes a dance move to be practiced. And perfected!

On the spiritual front, I have stepped up my reading, coming across a number of titles that have truly touched me deeply. They are:

  1. Into your hands, Father by Wilfrid Stinissen
  2. A testament of devotion by Thomas Kelly
  3. A man of grace and grit, Paul by Charles R Swindoll

I intend to gift the first book to close friends of the faith. Praying together is one of our favorite couple activity, though I will not share why we occasionally laugh together during those occasions!

For some, recording their innermost thoughts is prayer. It unleashes powers conscious and unconscious, powers that heal, insights that beget wisdom.

We continue our walks, relishing the beauty of nature. We communicate at a deeper level. We share at a deeper level. We live more deeply.

Finally, being at peace begins to fill the moments in the day. Feeling peace inside is truly becoming child-like.

God’s blessings on you and your loved ones.