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….