March 22, 2004

Environment for Praying

The first time I did the pilgrimage to Santiago, my husband decided to go with me because he did not want me to go alone. I was making a religious pilgrimage, but he had only come along as a companion and he proudly said as much when he was asked since he had been away from God and the Church for years.

However, I remember perfectly the day when we slept in the Monastery of the Benedictine nuns in Leon. During the celebration of Complines, my husband joined in, exhilarated, and when they sang the “Salve Maria,” tears streamed down his face as he sang along loudly with the soft singing of the nuns. I, completely embarrassed, could not sing it because I did not know the words!

What is it that makes praying on the Camino easier?

What does the Camino have that makes it easier to join in prayer and encounter God?

The Camino sometimes hides a surprise of grace in the paradox of a trip that undoes our plans, of an experience that leaves us disoriented and lost with no understanding of why we do what we do.

We know when we leave, we know where we are going, but we do not know how or when we will arrive. The goal is set, but what the Camino supplies us is a mystery. It is one thing to know where you are going, but yet another to know what you are going to find, what personal journey you will travel. The grace of not knowing can allow us to reclaim the childhood which had gotten lost beneath so many masks, to recover some of the natural surprises with which children ask and learn and let themselves be taught.

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