A month ago our daughter set out on an adventure, walking the 800 km of the Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint. James) in Spain. Yesterday she successfully completed her walk across the country. The pilgrimage was most used in the middle ages along and old Roman trade route. The remains of Saint James are said to be in the cathedral in Satiago de Compestela. Click here for more history.
Sarah on the Camino de Santiago
The following is a letter I sent Sarah as she set out on her walk. As someone who has spent hundreds of miles alone on a trail its some advice of how to make the most of your solitude. I am confident she now has more advice than I can offer. Here are some things you can consider on your own personal Camino:
Wow! What an adventure you are headed on. It will be full of epiphanies, frustration, questioning, and euphoria. The odds are high you will never regret one minute of the experience.
I’ve walked hundreds of miles by myself. This hushes the clutter and permits me to hear my own heart and to discern through its twisted tails and allows me to hear the still small voice of God.
I can’t say any trip was a watershed moment. If anything comes from my time alone it is an awareness of my need or my sinfulness. My ability to disguise or excuse things in my life. I’ve only understood coming to God on my knees.
The experiences humbled me and pushed me to maintain what some might rate as common or mundane. Work hard where I am - love those placed in my life - listen more and talk less - trust God and not myself - “lean not on your own understanding”.
As you walk - listen.
“The ancients called this 'docility', which means literally, 'teachability'. It is not passivity; it is the opposite of passivity. Passive minds are NOT teachable; only active minds are." - Peter Kreeft (Philosophy 101 by Socrates, Ignatius Press, Pg. 69)
As you walk - Pray.
“We ought to pray to the Father in all things. To omit to do so would not be laying a proper foundation.” - - Boethius “Consolation of Philosophy” 520 AD, Penguin Classics, Pg. 97
As you walk - confess.
"There are those that take pride in maintaining that there is nothing certain. They thus free themselves from the labour of examination, and on this evil principle they bring into doubt the most firmly established truths, and even religion itself." - Antoine Arnauld (Port Royal Logic) 1640
"I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity." – C. S. Lewis
As you walk - engage with others.
He who loves someone gives what is due spontaneously and joyfully, and he even generously adds a surplus. So the complete fulfillment of the law depends on love, according to the Apostle: "Love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13:10).
As you walk - enjoy
"We do not merely want to see beauty, we want to be united with it" - C. S. Lewis
The truths of the faith are simple, but we resist them. In the quiet we struggle not with truth, but our reactions to it.
James was a fiery individual, a “Son of Thunder”. He would not be content with passive behavior. He was a man of action - and so from our quiet reflections must come action. As you end your Camino and pass his tomb he will call out to you not to walk, but to run. To run into life as it is presented to you. There are no special formulas, just living life where we are and to live it with and for others.
We chose your name with an idea in mind: a combination of the sacred and secular. A name for an individual who is in the world, but not of it. A fiery passion in all pursuits.
“Sarah” is the sacred. A history of faith to a grandmother and a matriarch of Israel who believed and was rewarded. “Delanie” is the secular, a name from a troubadour with a lost soul who glimpsed the sacred in the life of his children. But there is no sacred secular split. The spit is contrived by modernity. You represent the inclusion of all. There is no separation and therefore the mind need not be at war with itself. The enjoyment of wine is not separated from the comfort of faith. The gift of adventure is not void of the spirit. Work is not something apart from holy service.
As you walk and think of particulars you will see by the end how they are all apart of the Universals.
So walk with intent, and with joy, and with openness, and with conviction. Wrestle with the paradoxes - in sangria veritas.
“I have a need for cool, verdant spaces - beneath the trees secret empty places - Nobody knows so no one will intrude - I have a need for solitude.” Mary Chapin Carpenter
Here is her first post after her Camino:
Before I left for this adventure my dad wrote me a letter, and a small portion of it said this,
“James was a fiery individual, a “Son of Thunder”. He would not be content with passive behavior. He was a man of action - and so from our quiet reflections must come action. As you end your Camino and pass his tomb he will call out to you not to walk, but to run. To run into life as it is presented to you. There are no special formulas, just living life where we are and to live it with and for others.”
I didn’t wake up expecting to arrive in Santiago today, nor did I wake up expecting to hear the news that Marty LJ, a women who was a second mother to me, had gone home to our Father.
So today I ran the last 28km. I ran because my soul would except nothing less. I ran because I felt my Father grab my hand in the midst of grief & pain and say “let’s go, you’re ready my child, there’s no more time to waste, it’s waiting for you...”
On this Camino, I ran to Santiago, I ran back to my God, I ran back to the truest parts of myself, I ran into the arms of the sweetest lover, I ran home.
And as my feet pounded the streets made of stone, with my backpack lighter than it has ever been before- I came around a corner (with bagpipes playing like they did at my own grandfathers funeral) to the Cathedral...breathless. Overwhelmed with emotion, I wept and gasped for air, my backpack & burdens slid off and smacked the ground, my knees follow suit. Toes blistered, feet on fire, shins splinting, hair knotted, skin heavily tinted by the sun like it never has been before, drenched in sweat & bug bites, wrung out, and at the end of myself... but I was home.
I know I only scratched the surface of the weight of glory that Marty felt when she went home, and if what I just tasted was only a glimpse, my God how I can’t wait to join her.
I’ve never been more sure of Jesus in my life- He is good. He is alive. He is not silent.
These 800km changed my life, and for that I am eternally thankful.