You know how when you come back from a trip, there’s always that post-vacation let down? Yeah…let’s just say that thank goodness that Bachelor in Paradise has been on TV to pull me out of those back-to-reality-blues.
Just kidding. I’ve actually had an incredible birthday week.
But there’s a story from my pilgrimage that I’ve been wanting to share with you. Actually, it’s kind of an astonishing story. Enough so that I didn’t want to just throw it at the end of a post. It deserved its own. So here it goes:
As you know, before I left for my pilgrimage, I asked for everyone to share their prayer requests with me. I was blown away by the response, and was honored to carry those with me on the journey. Not only did I light a candle for those intentions, but I also prayed for your specific intentions as I was walking those 80 miles.
So I read every single email, message, DM, tweet, comment, etc, even though I couldn’t always respond.
Well, there was one message that particularly caught my eye.
In addition to a prayer request, this beautiful reader shared with me a vision that they had about me on the pilgrimage.
Here it is: (Published with permission, of course 🙂 )
There is an old woman in dark clothes, sitting. You give her a flower, and you sit and talk graciously with her, but she gives you a beetle. The beetle crawls all over you and eats the flower, but the flower comes back. The flower can’t be eaten. The flower is in yourself, somehow it is never depleted though you keep giving it away. A pitcher of water is poured over the flower and washes away the beetle and refreshes the flower. Oddly, the flower is always in that perfect stage of blooming.
Now, let me pause to say that “visions” are something that I’ve never really “dabbled” in or paid attention to, frankly. Which is ironic, because the first stop on our trip was Fatima, Portugal – made famous because that’s where Our Lady appeared to three children on multiple occasions.
But to be honest, I read through the vision, was very touched that this person was vulnerable and shared with me, but kind of didn’t really think about it much. I knew to be on the look out for a white lily – but other than that, I kind of put it to bed.
Well, wouldn’t you know, the first day I was there, I stumbled upon a beautiful, white lily with a pink blush around the edges.
I don’t know why but I was drawn to it. The flowers in Portugal and Spain are absolutely breathtaking, but for whatever reason, I was struck by that particular flower’s beauty.
Chalking it up to a little wink from God, I proceeded with the trip. The beautiful, moving, bonding, faith affirming trip to Santiago.
And it wasn’t until I was home in Ohio, recounting the trip to my dad, that I came across the photo with the lily, and decided to go back and reread that vision.
And wow – just. wow.
If you read my recent post recounting Santiago, then you will know that my mom and my last day was not the day we expected, coming into Santiago. My mom and my athletic pace – finishing each day’s 12-18 mile journey in about 3.5 hours – came to a screeching halt when that final day we were assigned to accompany the 80 year old woman in our group. And that 3.5 hour power walk turned into an 8 hour crawl, – all uphill – resulting in our missing the culmination of the entire pilgrimage. Every 20 minutes or so, having to stop and sit, rest and take a break.
We missed the photo ops, our group’s celebration at the church, getting our Camino passports stamped, all of the hoopla — because we were still on the trail.
And as you can probably still sense, I have had to work through and process those feelings, and have only since come to realize the lesson God was teaching me in patience, and realizing that it’s the journey and not the destination. You know that.
But what I haven’t shared, is how difficult that last day actually was for me on the trail. I have never had an anxiety attack before – which honestly, I’m not a huge fan of that term. But there was this moment on the trail where we had already been shuffling along for six hours, and I realized that we had 4 more miles to go at this snails pace, we were getting texts from everyone already at the church celebrating. We were missing everything. And I just couldn’t breathe. Thankfully, I was off by myself and not in sight or earshot of this kind old woman we were accompanying. But I just had a breakdown. Eyes swelled up with tears. Chest tight. Anger and resentment fuming over.
That was the beetle from the vision. That was the devil that found a foothold in my heart and had sunk his teeth in and was killing my spirit, destroying my lily. One negative thought at a time.
I had been praying all afternoon, one prayer after the other. One rosary after the next. But I just couldn’t do it anymore.
And in that moment, the Holy Spirit wooshed in, and like that pitcher of water, refreshed my heart. Refreshed my spirit. Just like in that vision.
My mom came up, and touched my arm and said, “You can do this.”
In that moment, I realized that this 80 year old woman is a freaking rockstar for walking 80 miles, and I should be extending to her the grace and patience that God has shown me through all my seasons where I’m walking uphill and struggling, and barely putting one foot in front of the other.
And not only God, but my loved ones too. I have been shown immeasurable mercy and patience and love and encouragement. Now it’s my turn.
I share this, because reading that reader’s email back, it really illuminated something to me: I need to always be alert, because the devil is always on the prowl. Always looking for a crack in my foundation to snake his way in and snuff out God’s beautiful flower in my spirit.
That flower that you and I possess, as children of God. One that we are to give away to every person on our path along the way. Because that’s the beautiful thing – He replenishes and revives our flower to give away. And only the beetle — only the devil — can temporarily destroy it. But not even he can win over the replenishing power of the Holy Spirit.
I had a big old gaping hole revealed to me that day, in my spiritual life. One that is a blinking sign with arrows, broadcasting my vulnerable access point to the evil one.
Spiritual Warfare is real. I don’t like to talk about it much, because it’s dark. But it is real. And even when I was on a freaking faith pilgrimage, praying my way through the Spanish countryside, Satan was able to infiltrate my soul.
It’s time to be diligent.
And cling to Jesus in unceasing prayer.
I just want to thank that wonderful reader again for sharing that with me. It was truly illuminating for me, and taught me a great lesson.
See ya tomorrow morning on the Podcast!
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