Last night in Roncesvalles, a former monastery turned Pilgrim refuge, there was a Benediction and Liturgy for Pilgrims. All were welcome.
After the simple and deliberate liturgy, just before the final blessing, the 3 priests concelebration gestured to everyone in the pews to come forward for a blessing. You could tell, as smiles grew on their faces, that this moment was as sacred and joyful for them as offering holy communion.
All 50 of us walked up sheepishly and gathered around the altar. Then one of the priests read the countries represented at tonight’s gathering; China, Russia, Kuwait, United States, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Australia, Chile. He went on to name 30 countries. As the list went on, I could feel a sense of oneness among the pilgrims.
There were no conflicts. There were no negotiating tables. There was no posturing. There were only 50+ pilgrims all in unity doing one thing, albeit for various reasons; walking The Way of St. James.
At the risk of being over-altruistic or only recalling how well a 2nd grade class of boys and girls work out conflict…better than most Parliaments, Congresses, and similar leadership groups…let me say this.
We were one last night. No Pomp or Circumstance. No fireworks. No parades. Just a simple community of people walking from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela.
And it was beautiful.
I used to think praying for unity, not uniformity, was a futile prayer. I don’t believe that anymore. I was part of the United Nations last night that was truly nations united as one.
I invite you to recall a prayer that you stopped praying, because you thought it futile. I invite you to rethink it, re-imagine it. Or let it re-imagine you. Consider, though perhaps altruistic on the surface, that your prayer is not in vain. Been Camino.