According to the weather forecast, today should be the last day of rain! Tomorrow it is supposed to be cloudy, but with no showers, and Thursday, a beautiful sunny day with a high of 21 degrees Celsius.
The most difficult days are behind us now, and what remains is the better and exciting part of the walk as we are nearing the end – the final 27 km stretch.
Today I decided to walk at a slower pace and socialize with others. So, for a good part of today’s walk I was with the co-pilgrims from our group, and I even had an opportunity to make new friends from El Camino (one American, one Australian, and three Germans). During the hour we walked together we chatted, sharing our thoughts and stories about our lives. During our conversation, Gabriel, a young American pilgrim, shared with me how El Camino made him realize that he needed to de-clutter his life, “Everything I need, I have in my backpack.” Obviously he meant during the Camino, but we could and we should do the same thing in our lives because we are mere pilgrims on earth who are destined to be citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom.
We all have a tendency to over pack, too many things that are either not-necessary or are un-necessary! And unlike these young pilgrims I met on the way who had to carry all their stuff with them in their backpacks, we did not have to carry all of our stuff with us, as we arrived at a hotel and we were able leave whatever we did not need during our walk on the bus. But, if you had to carry everything you needed in your backpack, you would quickly learn the lesson: the heavier your backpack, the harder and slower your walk will be. The secret, then, is to take out everything you don’t need to minimize your load taking only the essentials. I realized during El Camino that when we distance ourselves from the comforts of our home, then we begin to realize where the line is between what we want and what we need in life.
During the Camino today, I would look for opportunities to ask other pilgrims why they had decided to do El Camino, and to my surprise, other pilgrims were doing the same! I found out that many who have decided to walk the Camino, for reasons other than health and religious, were in one way or another feeling lost and were searching – they were either at a point of transition in their lives, uncertain about the future, needing to make a decision in life, or trying to discover themselves.
During our life, we go through many different stages, and sometimes transitioning into these different stages in life can be very difficult, for obvious reasons, such as the fear of uncertainty, doubts about ourselves and our capabilities, or confusion, just to name a few.
I can say with certainty that not everyone will find answers during the Camino; some may find answers during El Camino, and some may find the answers they seek at some point in their lives, long after the Camino has ended. But even if we don’t necessarily find answers right away during the Camino, if we remain on track we will eventually get to where we need to go. That was the case for one of the pilgrims from our group. When she was just about to go in the wrong direction, I happened to walk into her and ended up guiding her in the right direction as we walked the last stretch of 5 km together.
If we were to ever get lost, God will find us. He will lead us in the right direction, or He will send us someone who will. We are where we need to be. It is all a part of the process. What we need to do each and every day is to just keep on going!
Have you ever felt so tired that you have actually reached a point beyond exhaustion? Your body tells you that you are tired and you need sleep, but your mind is wide awake?
Well, that happened to me last night. I was awake most of the night, tossing and turning in bed; I might have gotten a couple of hours of sleep at most and woke up this morning feeling completely exhausted. When the alarm went off this morning, it was one of those moments that if I could have hit the snooze and gone back to sleep, I would have done just that.
The game plan for today was that I would go as fast as I could, and when I felt completely sapped and spent, I would slow down and do as many stops as needed and not finish last (FYI, I don’t mean to brag, but I did finish way ahead of everybody). 😉
It was about half an hour into my journey when the rain started to come down, it was pouring, and I needed to put the poncho on myself and on my backpack.
As I was struggling to put the poncho over my head and my backpack, a very kind co-pilgrim stopped in his tracks to offer me a needed helping hand. Moments later when I had to cross the street, a kind driver stopped her car, even though there were no traffic lights, in order to allow me to cross with ease; let me tell you that the visibility was very poor, and I was quite thankful and glad that this kind woman did this.
t took a couple of acts of kindness to help me realize that despite my intentions of finishing my journey as quickly as I could, the journey of life isn’t about finishing first.
How often do we travel on the fast lane of life failing to notice that there are others who are in need?
“How appropriate,” I thought, as I reflected on the gospel reading from today’s Mass: the parable of the Good Samaritan! Life isn’t a competition, it is about showing compassion. After all, Jesus did say, “Love one another as I have loved you!”