Love along the way

Stage 28: Palas de Rei to Arzúa
Official: 28.13km // iPhone Step Count: 28.7km

At some point along the Camino de Santiago an overwhelming emotion overtakes you and you realize that you love each pilgrim. 

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

How do you tell someone you love them?

The stranger? The friend? Yourself?

Each pilgrim, each person has made you, shaped you, influenced you, into the person that you are today. As we find ourselves along the route of life, we find ourselves slowly falling more deeply in love with ourselves and each person we meet.

The more I’ve seen my own imperfections, I have become more accepting of the faults of others. 

The more I have come to accept myself for who I am, I have become more free to accept others for their path. 

The Camino de Santiago has never been about the road to the tomb of St. James.

The Camino de Santiago has always been about the journey to the tomb of your own heart. To discover what has died within you, to whisper into its ear, and kneel before your sacred journey.

How do you tell someone you love them? 

In smiles. In laughter. In time. Pilgrims walk step in step to reach the same destination. For a month we share a continual communion. Each day of the journey breaks each person open and we struggle to be remade whole again in the companionship of other. 

This communion, this companionship, this shared journey allows each person to experience a radical hospitality that welcomes the whole person into the heart and lives of others. In the celebration of our shared time, we cut through the bullshit and formalities and unite under genuine circumstances. 

The most difficult part in coming to love others, is coming to love yourself.

How do you tell yourself that you love you? 

Along the Camino de Santiago, you meet a stranger, a person whom you wish to never cross your path. That person is yourself. In the silence of the Camino, you hear the voices and demons on your soul and recognize the pains and insecurities of your heart.

As you come to know this stranger, you see him for what he is. A scared, crying, child buried within who is terrified to come out and play. For years this boy has been told he wasn’t good enough. For decades he felt he was stupid. For years he didn’t know he was lovable. Isolated in the darkness of your heart, this child builds a shadow that clouds your vision and pollutes your eyes. The hatred, anger, frustration, and pain you see in others is simply a reflection of that scared child within. 

Once encountered this child slowly begins to wipe his tears and joy refills his being. With snotty rags and damp tissues, the hate you give is replaced by the love you received. The well no longer runs dry. 

In the liberation of ourselves, the vision of the world becomes alive with the potential to love freely. 

How do you tell someone you love them? 

To say that I love the people I have been walking with, would be a last understatement. To say that my heart feels one with my fellow pilgrims only begins to scratch the surface.

Step by step, we walk, our hearts beating in step with one another. Words may never describe the emotion, but it was never about the words, it was always about the shared sacred experience.


For once, the words of Thomas Merton seem all the more alive and true to this experience. 

[On the Camino de Santiago, along the northern regions of Spain, in the center of sacred wilderness,] I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world…
This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed… But this cannot be seen, only believed and ‘understood’ by a peculiar gift.

~Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

3 Comments

  1. Bobby, I hope you continue to share your sacred journey long after you return from Spain. I appreciate your writing so much. Thank you, friend.

    Karen White
    Teacher
    St. Xavier High School
    Louisville, KY

    “Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.”
    – Colleen Wilcox

    Like

  2. Bobby⭐️,
    You show a countless number of people in a countless number of ways that you love them. You are always giving of yourself to help others.
    God Bless You Bobby⭐️!!!
    Bergy

    Like

  3. Bobby,
    Again, BEAUTIFUL. You are soo loved as you are so loving. The goodness you emit and the kindness you share fills us all with so much love!
    ❤️Mom

    Like

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