On Father’s Day, I shared some of my experiences from my pilgrimage on the Camino Frances, the Way of St. James. I had a powerful experience walking a portion of the Camino, mainly because I walked it as a pilgrim rather than a tourist. Pilgrimage is an ancient spiritual practice. As Arthur Paul Boers writes, “Pilgrimage ‘unites belief with action, thinking with doing’ and requires that ‘the body and its actions express the desires and beliefs of the soul.’ Pilgrimage is about integration, body and soul, feet and faith.” That’s why I walked. My soul needed healing. My faith needed a walk. My feet and my body needed movement. I wanted something more than just getting away. I wanted unity and integration, healing and wholeness, faith and action. So, I went for a walk along the way that tradition says James, one of the twelve disciples, walked to Europe to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
I’m so grateful for the experience of walking this ancient path that people of faith have walked since the tenth century. It slowed me down. It kept me from thinking too far ahead. It opened up my awareness to the beauty of creation. It allowed me to meet other pilgrims, hear their stories and share my own. And, it gave me the space to reflect on my own faith and God’s presence in my life. All of that was the integration I wanted to experience in this spiritual practice, something that that daily grind of life doesn’t often encourage.
Ultimately, the pilgrimage helped me see something really important again. Outside the town of Pamplona (yes, where the bulls run) on the Camino, I came upon a sign in both Spanish and English that offers an insight that I, and perhaps all of us, need to hear and reflect on over and over again. “No olvides: siempre estás en camino.” Don’t forget: You are always on the way. This is a message of hope – that more often than we know or realized, we are all pilgrims traveling through this life with an opportunity to become more and more aware of this life we have, the beauty of creation, our traveling companions and ultimately, that God is our companion on the way of life in Christ.
Where are you going or what are you doing that invites you to be a pilgrim in this life rather than a tourist, to raise your awareness of the path you are on with family and friends, with your faith and God? Traveling to worship on Sundays is an important part of our pilgrimage to meet God and build relationships with people. Walking the labyrinth at our church helps making walking a prayer practice. Setting aside the schedule on the calendar and taking a hike. Doing some yoga or other movement that is intentional. Becoming aware of neighbors and strangers around us and how God is present in them as we travel. Summer opens up some space to try different things that will unite belief with action, thinking with doing so that we aren’t just tourists of this life, but pilgrims on a journey.
My hope and prayer for you and for all of us this summer is that you will add the spiritual practice of being a pilgrim to your everyday life as well as any traveling you may do. May life and faith, healing and wholeness, faith and action, be united in you as you move. No olvides: siempre estás en camino.
Buen Camino! (Have a good walk!)