The Camino – Day Three

Sarria to Portomarin, 16 miles

A brief recap. I left home on Thursday, flew to New York, missed my connection, slept in the airport Thursday night. I spent Friday morning in New York, determined to make lemonade out of the basket of lemons I had been handed. If the Museum of Modern Art is not on your bucket list, it should be. I saw so many works of art that I had only seen in books, but this was the star of the show. I’m not ashamed to admit that when I came around the corner and saw this beauty, I let out an audible gasp(!).

I left New York in the late afternoon and arrived in Madrid at about midnight EST. I, maybe, had four hours of fitful sleep in flight. It was about 6 AM in Spain when I boarded another flight and arrived in Santiago at almost 9 AM. I took a private transfer to make the 2 hour trip from Santiago to Sarria, and then, I started walking.

This was definitely not how I planned it. I intended to have a travel day and a good night’s sleep before the first walking day, but God’s plans are greater! Let me add this. Sometimes God’s plan hurts, hurts physically, hurts mentally, but grows us spiritually. Remember the Holy 2×4 I mentioned in the previous post? Compared to the other walkers that day, I got a late start so finishing the first 22.2 km in daylight was a concern. In a way, the first walking day was a race, not what this pilgrimage was intended to be at all, but God was already working to slow me down. I am so stubborn, though, that He had to work at it nearly the whole day (insert emoji of woman slapping her forehead). I finally stopped for a moment after the first 6 miles. I was already in pain, feet and knees, and a blister was forming on my heel. I could feel it, but I refused to take my shoes off. If I saw it, that would mean it was real, and I couldn’t let my mind accept that. I still had too far to go. After a short lunch break with only a few local cows to keep me company, I continued on.

Somewhere around the 11th mile, things were getting rough both physically and mentally. I begin to cry a little, to think of Paul and all the adventures we enjoyed together, all the things I had seen and experienced on this journey so far that I wanted to share with him but couldn’t. I was getting pretty low in spirit. I asked the Lord for help. Within minutes, he sent a helper, a lovely gentleman named Jesus. Yes, Jesus. We greeted each other, and he was about to continue on by me when I stumbled over a rock. I lost my footing and nearly fell but recovered. Jesus was by my side from that moment on, and we were soon joined by his friend, Ada. Both had traveled to the Camino from the Dominican Republic. We shared the last 5 miles and blessed each other in many ways. We listened to each other’s stories about why we walk. Ada’s story, like mine, includes illness (cancer) and loss. Jesus’ story is about his desire to inspire healthy living through nutrition and sustainable land-use throughout the Dominican Republic. Read more about his effort here. I just don’t know if I would have finished this leg without these beautiful helpers that God sent just when He knew I needed them. Maybe, hopefully, they needed me, too.

Here are some other takeaways from today.

The Camino is very well marked with signs and guideposts everywhere, but you have to look. So, too, God, fills our lives with signs and guideposts, but we have to look for them. First, look for them by reading the guidebook He’s provided, the Bible. God’s Word points the way. Some signs may be obvious, but others may be hard to see. You might even miss them if you’re not looking for them. That’s why we have to constantly seek God for His guidance through his Word and through prayer.

Reward, or something that we value, is often preceded by difficulty. The greater the difficulty the greater the value. Not 30 minutes into walking, after 48 hours of travel, little sleep, and still wearing the same clothes I wore to work on Thursday, I thought, “This was worth it.”

Sometimes you pass people. Sometimes they pass you. It’s OK. They catch up to you later when you have to stop, and you catch up to them later, too. It’s OK.

When you reach a high point, don’t forget to look back. The vista is spectacular. You can learn more about your experiences by looking back at the broader view rather than letting your mind and heart perceive it as a series of hurdles, or challenges, you passed through.

When the road is smooth, it’s appropriate to pick up the pace, but when things are tough, slow down. When you slow down, paradoxically, you might meet goals that you haven’t met before. Sometimes you have to slow down to achieve.

This journey we’re all on is not easy. You might even be injured or wounded along the way. That’s part of the process. Accept it.

Don’t be an ass. I’ll leave that one right there.

Until the next update, Malia

The Camino – Day Two

Good morning, fellow travelers! It occurs to me this morning, or is rather blatantly obvious, that there is an element of trials and deprivation in the pilgrim’s path. As usual, I am overachieving! But, then again, I don’t think it’s meant to be easy. So far, I am certainly deprived of sleep, comfort, and convenience. The Lord is breaking this pilgrim in quickly. A pastor friend of mine calls this the Holy 2×4.

A significant airline snafu has set me back, and I was delayed overnight in New York. When I missed my connecting flight to Madrid, I told the very helpful but full-of-bad-news lady at the counter, “I have no idea why I am smiling because I’m in big trouble, and I need help.” I think she rolled her eyes at me, but I’m not sure. It was very late at night, and I don’t blame her one bit. I was standing there gawking just like one of my students who has tested my last nerve. To find out why I was still smiling, I turned to James, and found this jewel in Chapter 1:12, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” Wow! Just wow!

I love that everyone praying for me has prayed for peace and safety. They haven’t prayed for it to be easy, worry free, or mistake(!) free. And, no, it hasn’t been easy. I have made rookie mistakes that have impacted my air travel, but it’s OK. I’m OK. I am peaceful and safe, and thankful.

I am also taking advantage of this opportunity to have a very New York moment. I am visiting the Museum of Modern Art this morning. I am thrilled to have a chance to see art work that I have only admired in books.

Anyone who knew Paul knew what a gift he had for finding humor in most, if not all, things. In that spirit, I will share this little nugget from my trip through security. Apparently, my fiber gummies aroused the fear and suspicion of the TSA agents. They unpacked half the contents of my suitcase, and, wait for it, swabbed my bottle of fiber gummies for explosive residue. I kid you not! I could not make this up!

Next stop. Madrid.

Onward! Malia