Stage 11: Tosantos to Atapuerca
Official: 25.5 km // iPhone Step Count: 24.8 km
We each hold a prayer. A wish to God for magis (more). An intention to better ourselves and our world. A petition hoping for the healing of others. A penance begging for forgiveness. A message of praise celebrating all of our blessings.
On the Camino de Santiago, just as it is in life, prayer is important. It is what helps you get through the difficult pains. It is what is there to celebrate your arrival. Prayer is what carries you and your companions along the path.
For the last two days, we have been blessed with back-to-back albergues that are run by the local parishes. In both Grañón and Tosantos, these parroquial donativos offered communal dinners and shared prayer experiences. Gathered in simple spaces, pilgrims shared together their hopes, dreams, and prayers for the Camino. These deeply personal prayers revealed the profound depth contained in each simple pilgrim. While we have little to offer one another, we at least have prayer.
Each day that I have walked the Camino de Santiago, I have had the sincere privilege of holding prayer intentions sent from friends, colleagues, students, fellow parishioners, and family members.
Each prayer is different, personal, and intimate. Each prayer contains a candid glimpse into the personal faith of others.
A prayer for the healing for a sick teacher.
A prayer for a healthy pregnancy and birth.
A prayer asking for the end of their depression.
A prayer for comfort as a brother adjusts to life after college.
A prayer for healing after a miscarriage. A prayer for support as a community changes leadership.
A prayer for strength after a sexual assault.
A prayer for a friend’s soul and faith.
A prayer for our planet.
A prayer for a dying parent.
A prayer for love.
A prayer for peace.
Along the Camino, and through life, prayer takes infinite forms. So often, we feel as if praying must be something standard and ritualistic but the truth is prayer cannot be contained so easily.
As we walk, steps echo the wisdom of Abraham Joshua Heschel, “my legs were praying.”
As we make meals for others, the wisdom of Paul comes to life as we “entertain angels” (Hebrews 13:1-2).
As we laugh with strangers, we bring to life the truth of scripture, “where two or more are gathered” (Matt 18:20).
As we spend time with friends in any situation, we celebrate the reality of Rumi’s words, “Everything is prayer.”
To echo the words of Rumi and ground prayer in my own tradition, I will use the words of Thomas Merton from his book, Contemplative Prayer:
“Prayer does not blind us to the world, but it transforms our vision of the world, and makes us see it, all [people], and all the history of [humanity], in the light of God. To pray ‘in spirit and in truth’ enables us to enter into contact with that infinite love, that inscrutable freedom which is at work behind the complexities and the intricacies of human existence. This does not mean fabricating for ourselves pious rationalizations to explain everything that happens.”
To put it more plainly and in my own words, prayer is simply the opening of our mind and heart to others.
In each moment, in each minute, in every second of life we are given the grace to pray. To look into the world with hearts and minds open gives us the grace and hope necessary to carry on. It supports ourselves and one another in our time of need. It reminds us that we are not alone. It celebrates the joys of life. It connects to the past, keeps our eyes on the future and grounds us in the present moment.
To pray is to be open to the possibility of connection.
To pray is to be in communion with others.
To pray is to walk as companions with one another.
To pray is to love.
To pray is to live.