What started 8 days ago (the last time I wrote) as loss of power, loss of plug converter, rain, wind and cold, and exhaustion has now given way to looking forward to each day, come what may.
During the first two weeks of walking (I realize only now looking back) I was as fearful of being alone with my thoughts as I was fearful of a 26 pound backpack.
I couldn’t have known that until I woke this morning in the busy city of Leon, and smiled at the thought of a 23 kilometer trek to Villar De Mazarife, a tiny town on the way to Astorga, the next bigger small town along the way.
I knew that, basically, I had the physical capacity to make the walk. What’s more, I didn’t think twice about being alone. As it turns out, solitude is the best medicine for fear of loneliness.
I thought about friends and smiled. I thought about my heart and felt a calm. I thought about my faults and shortcomings and felt no sting! That’s when I knew something had been done unto me in the rain, wind and cold, and exhaustion.
What I prayed for leading up to this journey was openness, understanding, trust; many of the things I often pray for. Little did I know, that in order to be available, to let my guard down, to take my armor off, I’d need to forget everything I asked for and simply survive the elements long enough for the holy ghost to sneak in and plant new seeds of openness, understanding, and trust.
Mystics use phrases like brilliant sadness and illuminated darkness to describe the power and joy of living in a world that needs much work, but which is still beautiful.
I felt something like that today. I have many things to work out in my life. Who doesn’t? But for the first time in a long time, I felt as though 1.) I’ll work on them 2.) There’s only so much work I can do and 3.) When I take a break from the work, I need not feel guilty for not working 24-7. You can’t push a river is a truth that comes to mind.
Among the many well wishes I received before leaving…a few friends wrote something like “I hope you fall in love with yourself”. Honestly, the thought made me cringe. What is that about? I’m too old for such silliness. We did those exercises back in youth group, right?
I’m grateful, and a bit humbled, to report that I may be doing just as they prayed, and asked for on my behalf.
I have much to learn about love of self, but it occurs to me that the beginning of self-love might be…looking forward to being in solitude…alone with my thoughts…and enjoying myself. While there are certainly more depths and layers to loving myself, I’m grateful for the signpost that I came upon today.
One of my new daily prayers for me and for you is this; “I pray you enjoy who God made you.”