The Journey and the Destination
About halfway through the Camino, another pilgrim pondered with me the rush that we saw in some people to get to the end as soon as they could. There were many who wanted to cover maximal ground every single day. They were keen on getting to the end. This other pilgrim thought it a shame. The Camino is not about getting to Santiago, he said; it’s about the journey there.
I learned that if you want to walk, you have to look around. This isn’t natural to me. I’ve written before about how I got lost one day because I was so focused on where I was placing my feet—there was mud everywhere that day, following heavy rain overnight—that I missed a turn somewhere. I had been looking down continually. I should have been looking up and around.
You can learn to notice what’s around. As the sun starts rising, look at the colors change on the ground and the fields. Pause to pull out a camera to capture a flower up close or a panorama stretching to infinity. Open your mouth and say, Good morning, birds! Good morning, cows!
Walk more slowly, and you can notice how your feet are feeling, and your heart. Those are two very important—perhaps the most important—parts of your body. How is your heart today? And how are your feet?
Stop to drink a bit of water. Take off your pack and put away your gloves and hat. The day warms. Already it is not the day it was just an hour ago.
I went off-trail one day because I saw a church to the south and a dirt road going to it. It meant I would get to my destination later—perhaps even an hour later. But you never know what you’ll find in a church, or what you might want to pray. This church turned out to be locked, but often what you think is your destination is only a means to some other experience.
So it happened: When I was returning on that banked dirt road, coming towards me were about 30 sheep with a man in front and a man at the rear. There was not room for them and me on the same path, so I went to the side and squatted, to take a picture. The leading sheep saw me and came my way, and all the others followed. I stood up. The leading sheep startled and moved away from me, pushing themselves against the far bank of the road—and all the others followed. They passed by with many a sheep-voice-comment about this strange fellow. Then, with a clear path, I went on my way.
Recently Father Thomas Kincaid preached it: Jesus is both the way and the destination. Put that in Spanish and you see that Jesus is not just the pioneer who has gone before us; he is the Camino itself.
Don’t think about today as a preparation for tomorrow. Take your life at a walking pace, and who knows? You may run into some sheep.
Out & About. This Sunday, June 5, is the “Good Books & Good Talk” seminar on Louisa Mae Alcott’s Little Men. We meet at 5 p.m. in room 205 of the education building at Incarnation, Dallas, for 90 minutes. No reservations needed.
There was a glitch for a few days, but the book is back on line: A Post-COVID Catechesis by yours truly. Go to wipfandstock.com and search for Victor Lee Austin. Or just go to Behemoth (i.e. Amazon).