Today, I started my digital camino with Intervarsity. I was asked to take a picture of my feet as I entered the “liminal space” on the threshold before I embarked on my journey. One of the things we are pondering is what it means to be in an “in between” space and this exercise was instructive as I considered where I am in my stage of life. There are many things I have accomplished and I also have many goals. But most of life is spent in this liminal space and we should not lose sight of what God is doing during those times.
This first week of the camino is focusing on simplicity. Our audio guide led us through some breathing prayers and meditations but there were two moments on my walk that ended up being very meaningful to me.
My Camino Stone
It is customary for pilgrims to carry a small stone from near their home as they walk the pilgrimage. Our audio guide encouraged us to select a small stone on our first walk that we would carry with us throughout the journey. Here is a photo of the piece of limestone that I found as I walked on the campus of Barry University near our home.
As we neared the completion of our walk (around 60 minutes) we were asked to meditate on whether God was saying anything to us during today’s journey. After thinking about my stone I think I had some clear insight.
I am about to turn 55 years old. As I have written before about numbering your days, I have a desire to do something of significance that will last beyond my lifespan. This is what I was thinking about as I found this stone. What is the sum of my life? Will anyone remember me and for how long? Will the people I have influenced in a positive way remember me and carry on what I started? Does any of it matter?
Anyway, this rock. It’s a piece of limestone but if you look closely you will see some small shells and bits of coral. That’s what limestone is. Ancient sediment from the sea floor compressed into a chalky rock. When I saw this tiny shell I immediately thought about the clam shell which is the symbol of the Camino. You see it everywhere on the way to mark the path. Pilgrims also carry a shell with them as a marker that they are on pilgrimage. So, I thought that was cool.
Consider this tiny shell embedded in the limestone. It drifted quietly to the sea floor thousands of years ago. Who was there to witness it? It was covered and compressed into a layer of sediment. After thousands of years of obscurity it was dug up in a quarry new Miami and maybe used to build a building or some other structure. Then that structure was torn down and demolished. The fragment of limestone was discarded and forgotten, until I picked it up this morning. And now this tiny shell in a piece of limestone is a part of me. It means something to me. Who was there along the way?
The answer is the Creator was there every step of the way. My life is much more significant than a tiny shell in a piece of limestone. Jesus said as much in Matthew 10:31. But, this got me thinking. If God can bring that tiny shell through thousands of years to say something to me, then what could he do with my life if I just do my part to walk my journey and let him take care of what people remember? This was a liberating thought and a gift on my first day of my camino.
Peregrino, ¿Quién Te Llama?
Another highlight from this morning was the recitation of a poem that is painted on a wall near Nájera, Spain along the Camino Frances. The poem, “Peregrino, ¿Quién te llama?” is translated, “Pilgrim, who calls you?” and was written by Eugenio Garabay Baños. The poem was included in our prepared notes in Spanish and English. The photo below shows the Spanish version and then I’ll include the English translation.
Dust, mud, sun and rain are the Camino de Santiago.
Thousands of pilgrims and more than a thousand years.
Pilgrim, Who calls you? What mysterious force draws you here?
Not the Field of Stars, nor the great cathedrals.
Not the beauty of Navarra, nor the wine of Rioja
not the seafood of Gallicia, nor the fields of Castilia.
Pilgrim, Who calls you?
What mysterioius force draws you here?
Not the people of the Camino, nor their rural customs.
It is not the history and the culture, nor the rooster of Calzada
not the palace of Gaudi, nor the Castle of Ponferrada.
All these things I see in passing, and they are all a great joy,
but the voice that calls me fills me with an even greater feeling.
The force that compels me, the force that draws me here
I cannot explain: Only the One above knows!