The Camino – Day One

In a previous post, I shared that I am going on a pilgrimage. I am going to walk the last 110km of the Camino de Santiago through northwestern Spain to reach the tomb of St. James, the Apostle. My trip starts today, but this journey started, well, years ago. Grieving is a spiritual journey, and God set me on this path from a very young age. My mother was killed in a car accident when I was twelve. That is when my journey with grief began. It’s a tough road to be sure. Grief is wrought with challenges, but I’ve come to understand and even value that grief offers us the opportunity to know ourselves, and God, more fully.

God put this trip on my heart months ago. I am really interested in this idea of travel as an element in the healing process. What is it about travel that has the capacity to soothe the soul, offers clarity, and lays the ground work for moving forward? Does travel provide some sort of filter or framework for understanding and processing? It certainly does provide a time out from our everyday lives to focus on healing and recovery.

It wasn’t long after my husband died last year that I began feeling like I needed to get away (read run away!). I felt like I needed a retreat, to be quiet for long stretches of time, to reflect and contemplate, and to explore the inner world in order to take a complete emotional inventory. A pilgrimage is the perfect way to do just that. The idea of a pilgrimage is nothing new. People have known throughout history the value of walking for the maintenance and growth of our spiritual selves and our personal relationship with the Lord. They have walked across Europe and around the globe to visit sacred sites. I will be following in their footsteps.

It is said that the true purpose of a pilgrimage is to find who we are in the eyes of God. It’s also true that I have wrestled with my identity throughout the grief process. I am eager to use this trip as opportunity to see myself, my new identity through God’s eyes, who he wants me to be moving forward. The fact that this trip involves a lot of walking is appropriate. I had always related walking to exercise but have learned that walking is a powerful activity for the mind and spirit as well. It has been an important part of my healing process. In an early post, I mentioned a daily, mindfulness walk. The mindfulness walk gives me time to focus my thoughts on gratitude, areas where I am falling short, and prayer for areas of need. It also gives me time to enjoy memories and rejoice. I find strength with each step and finish feeling refreshed and empowered.

The Bible has a lot to say about walking. Genesis describes Adam and Eve hearing the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Can you imagine that? The Lord God himself walking in the garden, walking in our midst. In Deuteronomy, we are encouraged to walk in His ways. Isaiah says to walk in His paths. In Jeremiah, the same encouragement comes with an added condition and promise that if we walk in all the ways in which He commands us, it will be well with us. Micah reminds us to walk humbly with God. Ephesians and Colossians implores us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. In the Psalms we are told to walk in His truth and walk in the light of His countenance. Finally, in perhaps the most well-known Biblical reference, also found in Psalms, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” This rod and staff business has always interested me. When I read rod, I think of the old saying spare the rod, spoil the child. So, if the rod is the rod of discipline, then how does it comfort me in this context of death, mourning, and grief? Very interesting. When I read staff, I think of a walking stick, or Moses’ staff, the staff that sheep herders use to support themselves as they walk but also to guide and protect their flock. Very, very interesting. So, God is going to comfort me through the grief process with discipline, support, protection, and guidance. I like it.

Psalm 126: 5-6 “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”

Friends, I have sowed in tears. I have gone out weeping. I am carrying seeds to sow, and I am leaning on God’s promise that I will return with songs of joy bearing the fruit of a closer walk with Him.

Much love, Malia

13 thoughts on “The Camino – Day One

  1. Sandra Redfearn

    Your post is so authentic and reflect so many of my thoughts and yes, groanings. I never in a million years thought I would feel so lost in the temporal sense and totally off balance. I, too, am praying and studying God’s word so hard to find out what God wants me to do next. So far, I am am not very good at being a widow. I will pray for you as you are traveling this journey. Much love and prayers to Aaron and you. You are brave and strong!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. maliadunn

      I do a lot flailing around. This widow business stinks! My GriefShare experience was powerful. Is there a church in Cheraw that offers that program? It is a worthwhile outreach.

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  2. Laura Barber

    I am excited for you Malia!! And look forward to keeping up with your journey! It was cool that I saw you in the ED in Summerville! Take care

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  3. christimccollum

    So moving! I will commit to pray daily for you as you walk this journey! Already your words have moved my heart. There is grief in living with this disease. Mourning who I used to be and exploring who I am now and what is my purpose on this earth. This is not my home- I am just a pilgrim passing through! God be with you and may you find peace and joy in this pilgrimage and in your days to come! May His peace and His love be like warm blankets of comfort as you see where He leads you! Love, Christi McCollum

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    1. maliadunn

      Yes, this very life we live is the true pilgrimage to our eternal home. I know how you must struggle with grief and identity and the “wounding” work that chronic illness does to the body, heart, mind, and spirit. I think of and pray for you often!

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    1. maliadunn

      It was truly fantastic and life-changing. I find myself using it as a touchstone. I refer back to it often when I am low or struggling or feeling frenetic and just need to slow down. I can tap back into this experience. It’s pretty amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: I’m back! – Party of One, or Life after Death

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