On travelling to Bethlehem

Camino path. By Carl.
Camino path. By Carl.
Detail from the left panel of the Potinari Altarpiece Hugo van der Goes (c. 1440- 82)
Detail from the left panel of the Potinari Altarpiece Hugo van der Goes (c. 1440- 82)

I’ve never been to the Holy Land
But I’ve been to other lands, holy to me.

I didn’t go because I was required by order
(Unless you count the order of Whispers-in-my-heart).

I cannot say I’ve shared their experience
But, the human experience is full of comparable moments, isn’t it?

It has always struck me: the answers to a woman-in-labor,
The way they had no room, just the barn out back.

Yesterday someone asked me what I thought they felt.
“They” being the new, young couple.

“Angry, perhaps?”
The question was presented to me.

And I don’t pretend to know what it was like,
Although I have traveled before.

I have known dry days across the desert,
Dust staining my shoes beyond recognition.

I’ve shivered at the chill in the night-wind beneath the stars,
Walked on feet of blisters and blood.

I’ve shed tears and stumbled, convinced that
I
just
can’t
go
on.

Equipped with these experiences,
I know how seeing a resting point (no matter how rustic) brightens everything.

I’ve sighed the exhale when you’ve arrived for the day,
whispered thanksgivings for the blessed simplicity of any kind of shelter.

And I won’t speak for them, them carrying so much more than I,
but these things I’ve known:

It is at my weakest moments
that I’ve most known God’s steady provision.

The points of hardest suffering
are when fog lifted and I saw life at its truest.

That and:
God provides
God loves
God supports
God strengthens.

God does not leave us
but rather blesses us, graces us.

And, even in the simplest of dwellings, those who have been walking
relax and bless God’s holy name for
a spot to stop
a sip of water
a firm place to sit.

For when God is the only thing you have,
Everything is a miracle.

Picture by Matt. Shoes on the dusty Camino.
Picture by Matt. Shoes on the dusty Camino, arrived for the night.

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