If you were to be like, “So, what do you love about the Camino?”
…which you might not even be asking, but it’s not like I can read minds and I’m just typing thoughts anyway, I would probably tell you what I have told others before you.
And that is that: I feel like the Camino is close to everything we wish we had but don’t.
Take Facebook. I sign on frequently. Why? Because I like looking at advertisements and reading rants? No. It’s because I crave interpersonal connection. I want one of those little red flags at the top to be more than, “Steven wrote ‘lol’ on that one event you’re not even attending” and more like, “Your dear and close friend wrote words of love and humor on your wall, chicita.”
I want that connection.
Sometimes I read lots and lots of internet about other people talking about Jesus because, really, I just want to be in that paper-thin-walled chapel with the occasional centipede crawling on the curtain but, MOST IMPORTANTLY, Jesus there with me and the glassed shelf of relics and the Chaldeans filing in-and-out and the old women who bring dog eared prayer books.
I want to make wholesome food with diced vegetables I bought so sometimes I look at food blogs and Pinterest instead. I look at pictures of other people traveling when I want to be outside.
And it’s not like any of those things are in and of themselves wrong or inappropriate. It’s just…they’re counterfeits, you know?
I could have a direct IV of Facebook to my arm but it wouldn’t make me smile first-thing-when-I-woke-up-the-next-morning like I do when I’ve spent the previous evening talking and laughing and discussing with friends.
This is where I am.
And that’s something about the Camino. I feel like, on the Camino, we give ourselves time for interaction. And, yeah, we’re suffering together but we’re also talking about everything and taking in sunrises and Carl gives me his chocolate because I don’t know how to buy chocolate like he does and Maria is like, “So, tell me about your favorite saints” and Paul mocks Julia with a high-pitched, “Dear Diaryyyyyyyyyy, today was a gooood dayyyyy” until she clasps her hand over her mouth in laughter.
And Jesus (Garcia, not Hijo de Dios) asks me if he can help me cook and then we smile at each other and Marcus cuts fruit so perfectly and dearly and we all hang our laundry outside and Christine tells me she thinks she has a fever.
On the Camino we’re not distracted by phones and computers and radios and billboards and televisions because we’re essentially glorified homeless people with spending money. And we don’t speak Spanish to really watch TV anyway.
And sometimes we say to each other, “OK, so, let’s walk this next hour in silence.”
And then we do. Just us and God and the mountains.
I’ve been thinking about this and my dearly beloved friends St. Francis and St. Benedict. Francis embraced simplicity, poverty and community. Benedict teaches that there is enough time for everything: prayer and work.
And then I had some friends over last night.
It was a, “Hey, we should get our friends together for the evening” discussion with my sister that sparked it, so we did and there were snacks eaten and pumpkins painted and prayers prayed.
Today I’m emailing people about getting together on Friday because if we don’t make connection a priority it won’t be a priority. We shall gather and I (Lord willing) plan on making soup and Spanish tortilla and rustic French tart (gluten-free, meat-free, dahlings. Remind me to bring the chocolates I bought in Spain).
Tonight I’m (Lord willing) going to dance class and then maybe a planning meeting for a young adult group and I want to stress that I feel we should step away from calendar-clogging, flashy fillers as we plan events for the year.
I think what people need most, heck I’ll just own this, what I need most is more silence, more unwinding, more time in nature and more heart-to-heart with other people.
I guess I’m a hippy? Huh. When it’s written out it strikes me as very hippy.
But it’s funny, you see, because tonight’s meeting is supposed to be about events/ opportunities/ stuff stuff stuff for young adults…and I think we’ve done a very good job in the past of hosting great activities.
But how do we best plan relevant community? How do we best help people step away and encounter God?
I don’t know.
So, yeah. Back to the basics. Simple, heartfelt gatherings where cell phones can be put away and then we just talk and laugh and reflect. That sounds good. And times for silence, too, getting away from everything just to pause and pray.
These are my not-yet-hashed-out goals.
Thanks for reading.
If you have mad insights, share away.