Meet Me on the Camino
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First, I want to welcome those of you who have recently joined the God is my Glue Community! A place where we humbly trust God to keep us whole by His peace, love, and joy and where we reach out our arms and prayers to help our family, friends, neighbors, and those God places in our path.
I am so excited to be walking the Camino de Santiago! (The Way of St. James) The scenery is breathtaking, the time in quiet reflection/prayer is refreshing, and the people I meet along the way are a constant source of inspiration. Everyone says that you can’t come back from the Camino unchanged and I believe that will be the case for me.
Two days ago was the feast of St. James, the Apostle. I am sorry to admit that his feast day did not mean as much to me as it does now that I am walking the Camino.
After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, St. James made a pilgrimage to the Iberian Peninsula (now Galicia, Spain) to teach people about the life and teachings of Jesus. I can imagine his zeal for the Lord was contagious. Unfortunately, when he returned to Judea, he was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I in the year of 44AD, (Acts: 12) making him the first apostle to be martyred.
According to legend, his followers brought his body back to Galicia, Spain, and buried him on a hill. It is believed that a shepherd found the remains of St. James on a hill under the stars 900 hundred years later. This is why the town and the Cathedral are named campo-field, and stela-star-Santiago de Compostela (St. James –field of star)
Since that time, millions of pilgrims have made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela to pray before the relics of St. James. It is the third most popular pilgrimage after Rome and Jerusalem. The most common starting point is in Saint Jean Pied de Port, France. It takes typically 30-35 days to finish, averaging 15-17 miles/day. This is where I started, virtually. 🙂 Thanks to my friend’s post on Facebook, I learned about the Conqueror- Virtual Challenges. https://www.theconqueror.events/camino/ It is awesome! Every day, I send in how many steps I have taken via the pedometer on my phone. It shows me the miles walked and exactly where I am on the Camino! I have passed fields of sheep, gorgeous little homes with overflowing flower boxes, beautiful stone churches, breathtaking countryside, and so many dear pilgrims. Every so often they send me lovely postcards from the places I “walked” with some interesting facts.
I am considering all the people I come in contact with during the day to be my fellow pilgrims. Some are people I know but many are strangers. We are all on the ultimate pilgrimage. As I watched a documentary about six people ranging in age from 20-73 who completed the Camino, I was struck by the courage, strength, faith, and kindness of the people featured and those they met along the way. One woman who was walking the Camino alone mentions that one day she was truly struggling with her large backpack to make it to the next Albergues. (pilgrim hostel) A gentleman, not knowing English, motioned with his hands that he would take her backpack for the remaining miles. Tears were streaming down her face as she recalled the kindness of a stranger, referred to as Camino angels, and how she would have never made it without his help. He disappeared before she could even find out his name.
Isn’t that the absolute beauty of being a follower of Christ. All people are part of our “family.” Helping one another carry our cross(es) is the supreme meaning of agape love. A love that is sacrificial and wanting only the best for the other person. Jesus gave us the ultimate example. There will be moments on the Camino where you will be the one who receives the assistance of a Camino angel and there will be opportunities for you to be an angel for someone.
In the past few weeks, I have had had both experiences. God has placed me in front of people who truly needed words/prayers of encouragement. Their situations were fraught with difficulties either by the loss of a loved one, challenging home life, illnesses, or being isolated. Every day, I try to remember to ask the Holy Spirit to please speak through me and act in me, especially at those times. Friends, He is never outdone in his generosity.
I also have had many Camino angels come to my side in times of discouragement, anxiety, or feeling weak. One instance involved a complete stranger. I was trying to make an appointment to talk to my doctor about a medical concern. The woman on the other end asked me the best number for the doctor to reach me. As I began to tell her the number, my voice became shaky as I fought back tears. The woman, named Debra, stopped me and said, “What is the matter, sweetheart?” At that point, the dam broke and I just started sobbing. That one statement of pure concern gave me permission to take off my “backpack” and hand it to her for a while. I had not been feeling well for weeks and my sweet elderly Mom was having medical issues that I tried to take care of from afar. I was worried about her and so wanted to see her but I could not make the long drive. This very compassionate nurse took the time to listen to me and provide words of understanding and encouragement. She then asked, “What can I do for you?” Agape love… I was so touched. I said, “Could you please pray for her?” Without hesitation, she said, “Absolutely, as soon as we hang up, I am going to stop what I am doing to pray for your mom and for you, and I will keep praying.” It was a powerful experience and believe me, I felt her fervent prayers. I have recalled this instance many times and I thank God for sending her. God is so good and faithful. Many more angels of mercy have come to my aid, but I will share them another time.
The beauty of the Camino is not just the gorgeous scenery, but the chance to strip away all the distractions of the world and focus on your relationship with God. You are one with creation and your Creator. This is so appealing to me. Since the pandemic started and we were isolated at home, I realized that I often wasted time with excursions, media use, purchases, or unnecessary projects. “Walking” the Camino has reinforced the importance of prioritizing my time, talents, and treasures for God’s use. To live in the moment and not get caught up in the past failures or the worries of tomorrow. To ask the Holy Spirit every day to guide my steps and lead me to the souls that need His love, comfort, and peace. “Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” (Psalm 143:10) I hope to one day walk the actual Camino, but for now, I am grateful for this blessing. See you on the Camino, my friends, be assured of my prayers for you! Buen Camino!
Please let me know if you have walked the Camino or if you have joined the virtual Camino. God bless you and your day! https://godismyglue.wpcomstaging.com/
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