The current hot weather we are having is a good back drop for story that goes with this picture.By the 6th day of hiking, we had established a daily “routine.” Up in the morning & pack our bags. Breakfast, then start hiking. Morning break, then more hiking. Lunch-hike-break-hike and start looking for our hotel. We were usually fairly tired by the time we got to the hotel, but feeling more energy in time for evening mass and dinner. Part of the “routine” included seeing mileage markers at very regular intervals. In the afternoon this day, we noticed many of the markers were missing the distance to Santiago. At first it was something that just seemed unusual, but as the afternoon wore on it became a source of concern. The reason for concern is that our main source of direction for finding our hotel was based on leaving the trail at a certain mileage marker. To top it off, this was quickly becoming our hottest day of hiking. Happily, the marker for where we were supposed to turn had the km sign on it. After hiking through a “eucalyptus forest,” we successfully arrived at our hotel. As I reflect back on this experience, it strikes me how dependent we become (emotionally) on what we expect to happen. Despite that fact that we had played no part in the markers being present, we quickly began to feel like we “deserved” to have the markers. As if they had been there since the beginning of time, for all the pilgrims who had gone before us.
In some way, this situation made me think of Jonah and the story of how he found shade under a plant after he had walked through Nineveh. “Jonah was greatly delighted with the plant.” (Jonah 4:6) Then God sends a worm that kills the plant and Jonah is very upset – he wants to die! The LORD tells Jonah, “You are concerned over the gourd plant which cost you no effort and which you did not grow; it came up in one night and in one night it perished. And should I not be concerned over the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons?” (Jonah 4:10-11)
How often do we focus on what is “missing” from our lives, rather than being grateful for what we do have?