Life, marking birthdays, Camino de Santiago, and other pilgrimages

Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean,

Deuteronomy 26:5

Over at Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church this weekend, Rebekah and I enjoyed another positive Sunday morning. I will make this a fairly short post as I want to highlight just one simple idea.

After worship we went down to the fellowship hall to listen to a program presented by church members John Whisler and Carolyn Scott. They shared photographs, facts, and anecdotes from their recent walk along the storied Camino de Santiago in Spain.

The ancient route John and Carolyn took, running east to west across the very north of Spain, has been travelled by pilgrims for more than a thousand years. Over that time a whole industry of watering holes, cafés, support services, and Albergues (inexpensive lodging) has evolved along the way.

They talked about how their daily rhythm soon settled into a cadence, an ebb and flow, that felt more balanced and appropriate than the frenetic pace of busyness and urgency and multi-tasking we tend to fall into in our day-to-day lives.

“The things that matter in life,” John said as he was wrapping up his presentation, “we have time for…”

I was especially interested in the idea of pilgrimage – of how the experience transformed them, and what “re-entry” has been like after engaging that unique rhythm for so long – because of my own experience hiking 600-miles of the Appalachian Trail one spring. Here is an excerpt from the story:

My Appalachian Trail Expedition lasted a little more than two months, but reentry into the world of routine was harder than I imagined. We had lived an entirely different kind of life that – in a sense – took us out of chronological time, disconnected from many of the standard elements that define the culture we inhabit…

The Unmaking of a Part Time Christian

A pilgrimage is always a unique experience, because God loves, engages with, challenges, transforms, and equips each one of us as individuals. When I came back from the trail I noted that, “God provides seminal experiences so we can learn, so we can be changed, and so we can continue in substantive growth… It’s critical we never completely disengage from such a journey – not ever…”

– author Derek Maul

Today – as Rebekah’s birthday – reminds me that we all take journeys, that our life together is a pilgrimage of sorts. God continues to love, engage, challenge, transform, and equip.

And it is critical that we never disengage from such a journey – not ever!

Peace on the pilgrim path – DEREK

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