The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. (Is 40:8)
We first saw the word “Ultreia” written as graffiti on a walkway tunnel the day we walked through Samos. In the gift shop, we asked about the meaning of the word – it did not appear in my Spanish dictionary. We were told it was an old greeting on the Camino. It loosely means “Onward” and the common reply was “Et Suseia” which means “And Upward.” In addition to being words of encouragement, the deeper meaning is that the pilgrimage to Santiago is really more about the journey than the destination. And as we heard many times (before, during and after), the journey does not end when you reach Santiago. Rather, the experiences along the Camino are just a part of our spiritual journey.
For me, this message has taken hold in part through this blog – my way of continuing my spiritual journey begun on (and before) the Camino.
From the “Servant Song” by Richard Gillard
We are pilgrims on a journey.
We are brothers on the road.
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you;
Speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping.
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven,
We shall find such harmony
Born of all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony.
Kind of like the way God sees me vs how I see me.
This was my 10th year of going to Jamaica with Wright State Medical students. I probably have a picture like the above from every trip. It never gets old seeing the sunrise at Galina Breeze. It also never gets old working with the students in what is for most of them their first direct patient care experience.
As is usually the case, they were strongly impacted by their encounters with the Infirmary residents. This year, we went with the residents to a spot on the White River called “Irie River.” The joy was obvious on the resident’s faces.
We had a bonfire the night before we left and I asked everyone to share what was their favorite or most memorable part of the trip. This is something that Marylynn always likes for us to do. When they had finished, I started talking about why I continue to go on this trip. For some reason, I got all choked up. I guess it has something to do how I felt about this group after spending the week with them and how much they meant to me individually and as a group. I told them I hoped they always remembered these experiences and how it felt to really connect with patients.
In our health care system, it is too easy to become focused on testing or documentation or evidence based medicine or medico-legal concerns or any number of things that detract from that connection with our patient as a person.
As I wrote in our “bus journal,” the students are the reason I keep going back (along with the patients, of course).
In the “that’s ironic” category
I was talking to Marylynn this morning (or last night, the past 24 hours are a blur) about a reflection from Loretta Pehanich, about spilling coffee. The full reflection is at http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/23989/a-fragrance-of-love
She describes how her husband makes coffee every night for her (for the next morning) and when she smells the coffee, she thinks about how his making coffee is an act of love and the smell reminds her of his love for her. One day driving to work, she spilled the coffee all over herself and the car. And she makes the choice to inhale – and thank God for the love of her husband.
As we were getting off my connecting flight to MBJ, I overheard a mother telling her young daughter that now the mom was going to have yucky shoes all day because the daughter had spilled mom’s coffee. And my first thought was “is that going to be an all day reminder of what a blessing it is to have a young daughter?”
Having tears of joy right now….
We recently were in Charleston, SC for a wedding. One of the places we saw was Rainbow Row – here are a couple of my pictures.
The name is based on the colors used to paint the houses after they were restored in the 1940’s. As you can see, the houses look very different depending on whether you are looking north or south. This is a simple, but but striking example of how things can look very different depending on your perspective.
To take example one step further, these houses would have looked very different back in the 1930’s, even standing in the exact spots these pictures were taken. And if you go back to when these houses were first built, you would have to be in a boat to take these pictures because the river went all the way up to these houses.
It’s fairly simple to realize that we each see things differently, based on experiences and beliefs. It’s also easy to acknowledge that God sees things in a way we are not able to. Omnipresent means that God is not only everywhere at the same time but also everywhere at every time.
So when these houses were built, God knew they would eventually be painted different colors. OK, so maybe doesn’t mean much. But God knows what is on the other side of that painful experience we may be going through. And scripture says “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to God’s purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
It was a dark and dreary day… At least that’s how the novel starts, right?
I got up early today to take my son Dan to the airport (he is headed home a day earlier than the rest of the family). The rain was pouring down. It stopped before I got back to the beach, but it was still very overcast when I headed out for a run. Heading back from the airport, I was listening to a couple of talks by Father Michael from a series called “Teach Us to Pray” based on the Lord’s Prayer. You can find it at https://heartoheartblog.org/
In Part 3, he talks about “Thy will be done” and what that really means. Namely, trusting God in all circumstances. In Part 4, he talks about “Give us this day our daily bread” and bread represents our daily needs. God provides for our needs (not our wants) and provides day by day – not necessarily in advance of the need.
As I went for run, I was thinking about trusting in God, which seems pretty easy when everything is going smoothly in life. Which is most of the time. Despite a life of plenty, it is easy to want more. Like, wouldn’t it be nice to have a house on the beach?
Much of the Part 4 talk was about addictions and whether things in our lives are serving God or self. And that is really what ties it together for me – trusting that God is supplying my needs which in turn are the things ultimately bring honor to God.
(Below Added 7/9/16)
I was listening to song by Sidewalk Prophets and the words fit nicely with this reflection.
“I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You”