It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
— Wendell Berry
Last week a friend sent me a short film recounting the experiences of some folks who’d walked El Camino, a network of walking paths throughout Spain, Portugal, and France that have served as pilgrimages for thousands of people since medieval times. I soaked in the video, reliving the time in 2018 when I’d walked a portion of it. I am so thankful I gave myself that gift of walking. I’d like to think there’s another Camino in my future—and perhaps it is right here, right in front of me.
My walk in 2018 offered me a series of powerful questions to reflect on. They began with the preparation, which brought many questions: Was walking 5 miles a day over the summer going to be enough to prepare me for those 12-16 mile days? How could I travel as lightly as possible? Was I forgetting something important? My experience started well before I arrived in Portugal.
Once on the Camino, each time I encountered a choice point in the path, I would look for the yellow arrow that would point my way. It wasn’t always easy to find. Every part of the day unfolded slowly before me—each day was different and yet the same: nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other and be open to whatever the day brought me. Brief encounters with other walkers sometimes meant only a knowing nod, sometimes an immediate connection. Some days were easy, others demanded more than I thought I had. I came to realize that my walk was a deep metaphor for a move I’d decided to make from a community that had been my home for 40 years. What signs would help me find my way? How could I be open to new experiences that would await me?
And now, I’m on the path again during this long interim we are sharing. It’s far less physical than El Camino (or my move to a new home) and yet similarly challenging emotionally and mentally. How can I stay present to this moment, and what does it call for from me? How do I take care of myself for the long haul? Who am I invoking as company along this path? How am I holding grief and loss? Where is the beauty in this day?
What questions are emerging for you along your path?