Step by Step – Rev. Eileen O. Brownell

 Several years ago I heard Oprah interview Shirley McLean. She spoke about her journey and experience walking the Camino in Spain and I knew I had to walk it too. In April I ventured forth and walked about 400 miles from Pamplona, Spain to Santiago. It was a journey that physically took 33 days. However it was a spiritual journey that began over 9 months ago and that continues to this day as I process what transpired along the path.

          The journey is truly a metaphor for life. How people conducted themselves and what they did on the walk was a reflection of how they lived their life back home. There were those who were in a hurry to complete the journey and so they consistently walked 20-30 miles every day. They forgot to take time to truly enjoy their surroundings and the people they met along the way. Others would hurt themselves and yet still continue to walk on. One woman pulled her Achilles heel and the doctor told her she would further injury herself if she continued and yet she kept on walking. Others had infected blisters so bad they were forced to stop for a few days. It reminded me that we must listen to our bodies and the messages that they bring. A few individuals I met were angry. They were mad about the food, frustrated with the sleeping arrangements and one man I walked with briefly made it real clear he did not like America, even though he had never been there. Some folks just wanted to complain and then there were those who would stop and enjoy their surroundings.

          Often as I walked I found myself constantly looking at my watch or guide book as if either of these simple acts would get me to my destination faster. Sometimes I’d giggle remembering how as a child when on a road trip my brother and I were always asking… “Are we there yet?” This simple act reminded me that often in life I have become so focused on the ultimate outcome or goal that I have failed to enjoy the journey from beginning to end.

          Along the way, I managed to get a total of 8 blisters on both my feet. Everyone had advice on how to remedy the situation. Wear two pair of socks. Be sure to use compeeds, a special blister band aid.  Don’t forget to Vaseline your feet every morning. And of course wear sandals at night so your feet can air out. All of this was unsolicited and not asked for. It made me realize how often we give advice that is uninvited and may not be welcome.

          The Camino was a constant transition. One day we were walking up hill, the next day down. Then we walked through rain and mud as well as 90 degree heat. A portion of the trail on one occasion was slate. While you would hear about what lay up ahead from other Pilgrims we never quite knew exactly how it was until we experienced it ourselves.

          What I came to understand, is that we all walk our own Camino every day of our life, especially if we are going through a period of transition. As you move through this period of expansion and growth in your ministry, be sure to:

  1. Take the time to enjoy the journey.
  2. If you find yourself complaining be willing to work through the issues and take time for spiritual healing.
  3. During times of change, be sure to take care of your body and recognize when you may have a challenge.
  4. Leave the complaints about yourself and others behind. Be sure to forgive if you need to.
  5. Seek out trusted mentors for their advice and counsel and leave the unsolicited advice behind.

All Pilgrims greeted each other with Buen Camino regardless of their nationality. My hope for you is that you too have Good Camino as you explore new alternatives for your ministry.

Re. Eileen O. Brownell
Christ Light Ministries

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