As I was going through my pictures, I found more than a few taken of ceilings.
I also found multiple pictures looking straight up through tall trees.
These pictures brought to mind one of the homilies from Fr Michael Sparrow. He is sharing his homilies from the pilgrimage at Heart to Heart. The homily I am remembering was about looking down and looking up. He discussed the need to be attentive to where we were walking on the Camino, or else we could easily trip and fall. But if you were always looking down, you would miss many beautiful views. Similarly, in our spiritual walk, we should not be so focused on our immediate situation (looking down) that we forget to spend time focusing on God (looking up).
Jeffrey, our guide the first days of our trip (before we started hiking) assured us that we were not going to get lost hiking the Camino. And he showed us the markings that we would be following during our journey – mostly yellow arrows
Some of the arrows were old & fading.
One of the common topics of discussion during our trip was what it might have been like to be a peregrino (pilgrim) before all these signs were placed. Before guidebooks, Internet, electricity and so many of the other “conveniences” available to us now. My first reaction was say how fortunate we are to have all these things! But on reflection, I must accept that many of these things can actually detract the experience of pilgrimage. It is easy to “feel” less dependent on God when I can trust that the sign ahead is pointing me in the correct direction. When I know I have a room and bed waiting on me. When I have a connection to the Internet. Many pilgrims completely “unplug” from technologies during their travels. But reality is that you really can’t completely unplug, you can only minimize your exposures/dependence.
Tom with high tech walking sticks, digital camera with telephoto lens, cell phone with local SIM card, light weight day pack, and fancy hat.
When we got up on our third day of hiking, there was a dense fog in the valley below. We spent the night in O’Cebreiro which was one of the highest towns we traveled through.
Three days later, we had dense fog again. It was almost eerie to see the fog over the water as we left the town of Portomarin.
It struck me that fog is a great metaphor for the effect of time on how we see things in life. Often, in the moment, we are completely unable to see the impact of an experience. Only later, in retrospect, can we understand how God was working in the situation. After the fog has lifted.
This year, I’ve been taking at least one picture every day of things/places where I saw God. Some are obvious, like the sunset above from the end of our 7th day of hiking on the Camino. Lots of the pictures have been sunrises or sunsets. Some are beautiful flowers. Others will require a little explanation of what I was seeing and/or thinking at the time I took the picture.
During our pilgrimage, we celebrated mass every evening in the local church. Most of these masses were just our group, celebrated by Fr. Michael Sparrow who led the pilgrimage. Mass the first evening was celebrated at the former home of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
After our first day of walking, we spent the night in a small town called Ambasmestas.
As I reflected on this experience, it occurred to me that God does not really care about how we appear to the world (our outside), but rather what is in our hearts and minds (our inside).
Let me start by saying that I’ve never been accused of being particularly creative. So I should give credit to those who inspired me to start this journal (and from whom I will undoubtedly “borrow” ideas from). At least I’ll try to give credit where credit is due.
After completing El Camino de Santiago earlier this month, I came home with many memories and many pictures. Going through the pictures obviously brings back some of these memories, but it also provides an opportunity to reflect on the experiences. Earlier today, I was reading a blog from one of the other pilgrims in our group, Maria Carroll (Way of the Star), and realized how quickly some of my memories would be fading. Since I didn’t keep a daily journal (like my wife), I decided this forum was a good place to start.
Here’s the part where I give credit to the other blogs I’ve followed and drawn inspiration from. John Porter has been blogging from the Appalachian Trail. At times, I feel like I’ve been on the AT myself through his posts. Sarah Scazzaro writes about running, fitness and life at Drty Runner. She’s a great friend and inspiration (not just to me). And I’ve really enjoyed Pilgrim Strong, especially in my preparations for our pilgrimage.