Monday, September 29, 2014

The Way of Saint James

Hello, blog!

Well, it has been over a year since my last post and so many things have happened. Things on the professional front, things on the personal front, things on the academic front even have happened. But for now, I want to keep this first post somewhat succinct.

My latest adventure merits several blog posts but a quick caption is this: I went on a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago. I walked 200 miles or about 350 kilometers from Leon to Santiago de Compostela across the north of Spain. In my next few blog posts, I want to outline and look back on the journal entries I wrote along The Way. But for this post, I want to share two poems I read while on the Camino.

This first poem was posted on the inside of the very first albergue I stayed in in Leon. To me, it is all about taking your experiences to heart. The Camino was a lovely break from reality, but it was so much more meaningful than your usual beach holiday. On the Camino, I learned things about myself, about my fellow pilgrims, and about my faith in God. This poem is all about bridging that reality gap from the Camino to our everyday lives.

The Prayer of La Faba by Fraydino
Though I may have travelled all the roads,
Crossed mountains and valleys from East to West,
If I have not discovered the freedom to be myself,
I have arrived nowhere

Though I may have shared all of my possessions with people of other languages and cultures,
Made friends with Pilgrims of a thousand paths or shared albergue with saints and princes,
If I am not capable of forgiving my neighbor tomorrow,
I have arrived nowhere

Though I may have carried my pack from beginning to end and waited for every pilgrim in need of encouragement,
Or given my bed to one who arrived later than I, given my bottle of water in exchange for nothing,
If upon returning to my home and work I am not able to create brotherhood or to make happiness, peace and unity,
I have arrived nowhere

Though I may have had food and water each day and enjoyed a roof and shower every night,
Or may have had my injuries well attended,
If I have not discovered in all that the love of God,
I have arrived nowhere

If from today I do not continue walking on your path searching for and living according to what I have learned,
If from today I do not see in every person, friend or foe a companion on the Camino,
If from today I cannot recognize God,
I have arrived nowhere

This second poem speaks to me regarding judgement of others. It says to me that we all travel together, though we may be on separate paths. And to judge others simply because they take a different path than us is like judging one part of our own journey as more important than another.

They Too, Have Climbed Mountains by Fred Lansford from Songs From An Inner Silence
As you climb a high hill
and look back to the valley from whence you came...
Which of your footsteps along the way
would you hold in a measure of judgement
above others? ... Would you say
the steps that carried you forth at your beginning
were of lesser importance
than those by which you now arrive?

Neither judge you your brothers
when they stumble with eagerness or limp with pain.
Whether they be presently walking on a high hill
or in a darkened valley
they too, have climbed mountains.
And their pathways would merge with all others
ere any reach their destination.

Is it not written on the Scrolls of Time
that all are travelling together?
Truly, none may take into their vision
that permanent glow of morning
if the light of its inner radiance
be shielded from the eyes of but one.

I truly believe I saw these poems by the grace of God at exactly the times I was supposed to see them. The first was all about getting the most out of the journey and bringing what I learn back to my every day life. The second was about the destination and not judging others on how they reached theirs.

One thing that I and countless other pilgrims discovered along The Way is that the Camino provides. You may not realize that you need what it provides, but it provides nonetheless. And finding these poems is just one example of that.

1 comment:

  1. Hooray for blogging! I cannot wait to hear more about the Camino!