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The Beginning of the Camino

May 11, 2018 - When I got off my first flight, it felt like the Camino had already begun. The conversation with the woman sitting in the seat next to me had all the qualities of the kind of interactions you have while walking. Maybe these kinds of conversations are always near at hand. Maybe, we are simply too busy to see them. Maybe, I was able to enter it because I was already thinking like a pilgrim. Whatever the case, it was a gift.

On the second flight, I had the whole row to myself. Given the 9 hour flight, I was not too disappointed with not having anyone to chat with. I could lay down and sleep. This too was a gift.

It wasn't long after I found and settled into my hotel in Paris that I discovered my train had been cancelled due to a strike. There was another later in the day and it would have me arrive just in time for dinner. This would not allow me time to go to the pilgrims office and get my credential. I would have to wait for the office to open in the morning and start walking later, on what it the longest and hardest day of the Camino. I did not want to do that.

It turns out that I would not have to deal with it at all. Since it was a holiday, that meant the bus from Bayonne, which would get me there by the skin of my teeth, was not even running. They had another, but it would not leave until 9 pm and arrive after 10 pm, which would be too late to check in at my albergue.

In Bayonne, I discovered I was not the only one pilgrim in this predicament. There were nine of us. I talked them into taking taxis to St. Jean. With full cars, the price was bearable. Unfortunately, a full car holds four. Two hold eight, and since I was traveling alone, I drew the short straw and watched them drive off without me.

I found a hotel, ate, and then began thinking about how the next day would be different than I expected. It was in this process of pondering the possibilities that I discovered what might be one of the things that may be grown in me on this walk, or at least I hope so.

I am old enough and have had enough life experience that, more often than not, I choose the right path. I can wrap my head around a situation and bring myself to embrace it, even if it is birthed in disappointment. My last Camino helped me grow in this capacity.

But lying there in a comfortable bed, struggling to find sleep because my mind kept churning, it dawned on me, there is a huge difference between having the character to come to and choose the right path, and being so trusting in the goodness of our Heavenly Father that when things get upended, you can acknowledge the disappointment, and then move forward, trusting good will flow from the unplanned and unexpected turn of events.

I don't think this capacity of the heart is born through repetitive disappointments, but rather it grows with your capacity to see the good Father. When you see him clearly, and disappointment comes, it is quickly swallowed up in Him.

I hope the Camino moves me deeper into this place.


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