To Carry the Weight for Another

June 6, 2008 - Day 4 Complete, 21 km

I visited an octagonal church today. It was off the Way, but highly recommended. I found myself walking with two Swiss professors. They’ve been walking since their home in Geneva. Once we arrived at the octagonal church, I sat. I rested. I didn’t think. I was present. A sign at the door said that no one is a foreigner in the church as God welcomes all with loving hands. All of us on this Camino are foreigners, too. Yet we are all the same, one community walking towards Santiago. This community I’ve found along the Way is a gift - everyone looking out for one another. Everyone committed to the best interests of those we meet. We all want to reach Santiago, and we want everyone else to reach the destination, too. There’s no competition. There’s only hope that we will find what we’re looking for as we walk towards Santiago.

During dinner last night I sat with two men from London and a man from New Zealand. One of the men from London has walked the Camino before, he’s now 78. He shared his story of walking the Camino the first time and how on his first day across the Pyrenees he fell, scratched his face, broke his wrist and two ribs. He didn’t seek medical help until he returned home over a month later and found out about all the broken bones! I resolve to not complain about any of my leg, back or knee pains!

During the first few days my backpack was causing a lot of pain. I just assumed it was par for the course. I kept lightening the load - even as much as leaving my small Bible at a hostel one night. But no matter how much I rid of things in my bag, it still hurts my body. Finally, some other pilgrims asked me if my bag was hurting me. Did I look that bad, I wonder?! I said, “Yes.” And continued to share about how much I had taken out of the bag (isn’t that life, we collect so much and then we have so much to free ourselves from…) He asked if he could see my bag. He did some adjustments. I placed the bag back on my shoulders and there was NO weight on my shoulders. It didn’t hurt! Who knew the bag wasn’t supposed to be on my shoulders….He mentioned that anyone at a store where I bought the bag would have told me how to wear it properly, but I missed that step as I’m borrowing the bag from a past pilgrim. I feel like I could walk for hours again now! Thanks to fellow pilgrims along the way!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

With two children (a baby and a toddler), a husband who consistently overpacks, a dog, and myself, I’m never at a shortage for things to carry. We took a day trip the other day. It was only a two hour drive, but we still found ourselves with plenty of bags.

Diaper bag.
Snack bag.
Lunch bag.
Extra water bottles.
Bag for swimming gear.
Bag of toys.

There’s always something to carry. And inevitably, the one thing that I really need is the one thing that I can’t find or is left behind.

It’s not just physical things that I carry, but the emotional and spiritual weight of being a mom, wife, daughter, writer, pastor. My brain doesn’t seem to stop thinking or worrying or wondering or hoping or praying. I tend to always be a few steps ahead in my thinking or planning. The what ifs are overwhelming, almost paralyzing in regards to my children and their future, their safety, and their health. If I’m not careful I’m prone to over analyze and overthink any situation. I just can’t seem to carry a lighter load in my brain.

Could this be where I need to remember my time on the Camino? The power of letting others take some of the weight I’m carrying.

Of course I carried less during my month walking. I had to. I only had one bag with me and I had to carry it every day for 500 miles.

But what about remembering those pilgrims who walked with me? Who listened to me. Who shared their stories with me.

Who saw my painful, awkward backpack and offered to lighten my load.

Two pilgrims whose names I don’t even remember and who I only encountered once along the Way noticed me and my need. They saw what I was carrying and they offered to help me carry the weight. They literally helped me to finish the Camino and save me from who knows what pains.

They taught me in a tangible and powerful way that we’re meant to be weight-lifters and load-lighteners for others. We’re meant to look out for each other. We’re meant to walk the questions, fears, doubts, joys and sorrows together.

And sometimes all it takes is a simple statement: Let me help you.

**This is part of a series of blog posts reflecting on my time walking the Camino de Santiago in 2008. Throughout the next month (the 33 days it took me to walk 500 miles), I’ll share excerpts from my journal written during my walk as well as the lessons that continue to guide me. Thanks for joining me on this journey!