Our departure for the Camino Ignaciano looms ever closer (Jan 10th) and muscles are calling for attention. Robin and I have been doing a lot of walking since we returned from Le Puy-Santiago, but still there is nothing that tells the truth like slinging your walking pack weight and setting out for at least a 16 km walk. It is uncanny how this discovers little spots that rub in your boots, or identify a set of muscles that need a little extra work. But it is all part of the getting ready. For some people that is the length and breadth of preparation. The body. As we will be following in the steps of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, I thought it would be appropriate to find out a bit more of Jesuit practices and see what we might incorporate into our pilgrimage. Robin and I are always looking inward beyond the physical skin that defines the body. The longer we live the more certain we are that life’s journey is only about finding the peace that we all seek, but oftentimes have trouble describing, that is found coming home to God. I know, I know…enough with the God stuff, but bear with me. I am not a preacher (or a teacher for that matter) just a pilgrim who finds himself on a wondrous, yet challenging, road.
Who are we to discount what we know almost nothing about. Faith is simply a willingness to believe in something that we cannot fully account for, or understand, yet we feel powerfully drawn to in a way that is indescribable, but compelling. Is this the path to peace for everyone? I honestly believe so. We can turn away from who we are, but we can’t change who we are. It is only with the acceptance that the road you find yourself on is your road, the one you are meant to walk, and if you embrace it, it will become the path to your peace. I am reading a book by a Jesuit, James Martin, SJ, entitled, The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything. I found this to be a very interesting read. Towards the end of the book he has a chapter entitled “Be Who You Is.” It stems from a homily the author heard that included a quote from a wise man from the deep south of the USA. who said, “You gotta be who you is and not who you ain’t! Because if you ain’t who you is, then you is who you ain’t. And that ain’t good.” As I read this I couldn’t help but feel the magnitude of what has been wasted, lost, or sacrificed as a result of not being willing to simply be who we are. For the record, I am not encouraging axe murderers or other deviant behaviors. But in the normal flow of life, too often, we tragically find ourselves swept away in a roiling current of false expectations and hopes (usually inspired by others) that do not reflect who we are or what brings us peace. We lose our footing and in a blink of the eye we are gone. But, take note, this is not a momentary misstep that brings us to death’s door and then through it. It is a lifetime of unhappiness, a lingering agony of promise unfulfilled.
But, there is hope. First it takes but a moment to contemplate how hollow our lives would be if they were just about accumulation of assets, and meeting other’s expectations. The shallowness of that scenario is quite clear. Yes, we all like stuff, but to what end? To what limit? Producing what lasting joy? Bringing us what peace? We seek what abounds in all of us and that is God’s love. Don’t get all weirded out. Hang on for a just a bit. In the still moments of our lives we sense the truth of the way we seek. We sense its rightness, despite what we might say in the company of others. The pilgrim roads we walk provide ample opportunity for us to reflect upon and develop practices that help us to both open our hearts to and embrace the rigors of the journey for we know that all roads lead home to the source of our peace, and that is to God. That’s why we do it. Peace be with you.