Recently, in just the past 2 weeks, I have had two separate friends each embark on their own pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.
But “El Camino” is a walking pilgrimage that follows “The Way” of St. James through the countryside of Portugal and Spain, culminating at the cathedral in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, at the shrine of St. James.
You can do it for as long as you want — my mom and I did 10 days, walking about 14 miles a day. But if you do the entire thing, you can “camino” for over a month! (Which is what one of my friends is doing!)
There’s a great movie about it called “The Way,” which I highly recommend, but fair warning…it WILL make you want to do it yourself, and in fact, it was after watching that movie that my mother and I booked our tickets!
But it’s just wild that, here we are, summer 2021, and I know two different people who are doing the Camino.
Then it dawned on me: we’re all seeking life changing experiences.
Post-pandemic, people are looking for a shake up. A wake up. A life changing experience.
Because that’s the thing about the Camino…the grueling physical demands on your body, the solitude in nature, the conversations in passing with other pilgrims on “The Way,” the exploration and deepening of faith you experience traveling with priests and people of faith from church to church, often staying in monasteries. It is a journey of faith – where, as I realized, it is about the journey, not the destination.
But that’s the thing: the Camino changes your life.
And that’s what so many people are hungry for — craving — after this year we’ve had in “The Q:” a life changing experience.
I flew across the country to a christian treatment facility, and stayed for three months. And I can truly say, it was a life changing experience.
And I kept a journal while I was there. My best friend gave me a beautiful, decorative journal with handwritten quotes about friendship on top of every page.
(It was the inspiration of my book, Bloom).
But today, inspired by those two who embarked on their own life changing journeys, I decided to dust off my journal from inpatient, and read the words that I wrote during that instrumental time. Because, like the Camino, the “grueling physical demands on my body, the solitude [at inpatient], the conversations in passing with other pilgrims on the Way to recovery…” it turns out recovery is also a journey of faith.
And I did a “roulette” style opening of my journal, asking God to open to the page I was supposed to see. And, boy, He didn’t disappoint:
Written by little 18-year old me, on Day 32 of inpatient, scared-yet-fighting my hardest to embrace recovery…
“Isaiah 48:17 The Lord, your Redeemer…leads you along the paths you should follow.
Hope is the sunrise of the heart. When you come to the edge of all the light you know and can see, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on, or I will be taught how to fly.”
I think at the end of the day, that’s where the “life changing-ness” of it all boils down to: are we brave enough to step out into that darkness, or not.
Because, we’ve all got that something in our lives that not only requires faith, but demands it.
And we feel “stuck” when we remain in our safety bubble. All the while, yearning for something life changing.
Faith will change your life. Because it will allow you to take that step of faith into the darkness of the unknown, and trust that “there will be something solid to stand on, or I’ll be taught how to fly.”
I am so thankful, every single day, that God gave me the grace and taught me how to fly during that momentous season of renewal at inpatient and beyond.
Recovery is a lifelong road, where, also…like the Camino, I’m realizing that, indeed, it is about the journey and not the destination.
So, there you go. Hopefully the words of a hopeful girl back in 2007 can spark in you the hope that you have the power to change your life right now: all it takes is a “yes” to God, and the courage to step out where He leads.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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