Saints Along the Way

June 10, 2008 - Day 8 Complete, 29 km

Sitting in the city square of Logrono, I enjoyed tortilla and hot chocolate, I chatted with a French woman walking all the way from Le Puy, France. We both commented on how fast the time was going. I mentioned that on the Way there is plenty of time to think or not to think. To just be present. She smiled and agreed, “Time not to think.”

I pass villagers who are used to the pilgrims walking through their towns and on their streets. They all greet us happily. They genuinely seem excited to see every pilgrim. And some of them tell me to pray for them when I reach Santiago. They want me to pray to St. James for them. To lift them up by name in prayer. To use my walk as an endless prayer for the people I meet.

Everyone keeps saying that St. James is waiting for us in Santiago. This St. James who is represented as a moor-slayer by the Spaniards. This St. James depicted on a horse with a spear. This St. James who seems so violent. Is this the St. James I’m walking towards? Do I really believe it makes a difference to walk? Does it matter to pray to St. James? Each day as I walk I gain a little more understanding about why I’m walking, and then, just as quickly, I question why I’m walking. And all the while I’m being given these names and people to pray for. I’m being reminded that someone is waiting for me. Someone is listening to me.

Whether St. James is really waiting for me, or whether it matters if I pray to him, I do know that I feel the presence of those who have walked before me. What I do know is that I feel something on this path. This road. This way. I laughed it off when pilgrims mentioned it before I had left for Spain. I was told that the Way itself would teach me. That it has a power of its own. It sounded funny to me. But it’s true. I believe it now. I feel it now. I spend many hours walking in solitude, but I’m never alone. Anyone who has walked this Way is here. Their spirit and presence guiding me and pushing me forward. Those who have blessed me on this path who now pray for me back home. Those who gave me their stories and belongings as I prepared to walk. I’m not alone.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The church my husband serves and where we worship as a family is celebrating their 100th anniversary of the sanctuary. They’ve been a congregation for 135 years, but this year marks the 100th year they’ve worshipped in this particular sanctuary. 100 years of singing, praying, forgiving, loving, and hearing and sharing God’s word. 100 years of people yearning to know that they are loved. 100 years of declaring hope. 100 years of God’s grace.

They’ve done the weekend up well. Former pastors coming. Pictures and history. Worship and meals. A slide show. So much gratitude and history.

It’s been a weekend full of grand gestures, worship, and programs. Yet, it’s been in the smaller moments, the nooks and crevices, where I’ve felt something more. Something more powerful.

To begin the morning we gathered at the site of the original building. We heard how a group of people wanted a place, a grand place, to welcome all. How they wanted to build a church where people would come and hear God’s word. Where the community would experience hope.

The kids waved their streamers. My husband, Stephen, offered a prayer. And our daughter, Charlotte, looked towards her father.

I’d like to think she’s looking past her father. Towards something more. Something deeper than what she can see with her eyes. I’m hopeful she’s seeing the grandness of this community. Not the Cole Camp community but the community of saints. I’m hoping she sees that wherever she goes and whatever she does, she is not alone.

The community that supports her and loves her and knows her.
The community that has walked before her and the community that is to come.
The community that knows no bounds.

I can see it and feel it, too. Because I’m walking it now. This life of faith where we strive to see one another as God sees us. As loved. Where we walk in faith trusting that the paths we take are full of those who’ve gone before and show us the way.

With each step, I keep walking. And I keep listening for the voices of those who’ve gone before.

**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!