Monday, June 01, 2015

"Toca Seguir Caminando"

Two weeks ago right now, Monday, May 18th, at 10:33 pm, I was sitting in my seat on US Airways Flight 748, on an overnight flight, headed for my beloved Madrid. Twelve days to wander and wonder, listen and learn, spend time alone and spend time with friends. I didn't get to connect with everyone I usually see, which made me sad, but spending time alone with The Alone, walking and sitting, watching and waiting, rejuvenates me like nothing else in the world.
the garden outside the 

While wandering around in Madrid two days later, on Wednesday, May 20th, I realized that ten years ago right now, in May of 2005, I was in the same city, walking on the same streets with my two children. We had embarked upon our greatest and most daring homeschooling adventure - a month in a rented apartment in Spain's capital city. And quite the adventure it was.

the arched doorway in the middle of the photo
is the entrance to the apartment building we lived in that month

As I walked up and down those ancient streets,
remembering our experiences from a decade earlier,
pondering all that has transpired since then,
considering all that is yet to be - 
seminary for me,
college graduation for my daughter,
college enrollment for my son,
financial devastation after all of those things transpire,
(only kidding, sort of...)
as I reflected on this life journey I'm on,
I was grateful that I was wearing sunglasses.
I was grateful that no one could see the tears brimming in my eyes. 
I was grateful for the countless blessings I have received in my life.

following the footsteps of Santa Teresa de Jesus

All the trips to Spain and back.
All the taxi rides and subway rides and bus rides and flights and walks.
All the trips I've ever taken. Anywhere. Anytime.
All the meals and cups of coffee. 
All the reading.
All the journal writing.
All the shopping.
All the museums visits.
All the church tours.
All the unexpected encounters.
All the friendships and love and laughter and tears.
All the rendezvous.
All the names and faces and shared stories.

following Leticia

All the near misses.
All the times I didn't get hit by a taxi.
All the times I didn't get lost.
All the times I didn't get mugged.
All the times I didn't lose my money or my passport.

I was enormously grateful.
I am enormously grateful.

following Leticia's entire family

In March of 2008, I tore this poem out of Skirt magazine and refer to it at the end of each of my solo adventures. It was written by Nikki Hardin. 

flying home, starting over,
having soul lag, waiting for it
to catch up with my body, the
dislocation of being Here There
Somewhere Nowhere, of being
between heaven and earth, of
flying and landing and waiting
and taking off and going in 
circles, when every new wait-
ing room is filled with middle
of the night regrets and yester-
day's news and strangers and 
you're a stranger too, flying
so far you break the barrier of
your own fear, flying so high
no one can reach you, flying
home and learning to kiss the
ground I step on every day.

I returned to Charlotte on Saturday afternoon, just over 48 hours ago.
Jet lag makes me sleepy before 8 pm and wakes me up before 3 am.
Soul lag makes me reflect on what I was doing two weeks ago right now, 
one week ago right now,
seventy two hours ago right now. 

I am starting over, dealing with jet lag and soul lag.
I am relearning to kiss the ground I walk on,
the faces I love, the relationships I cherish,
this life that is mine.

One of my favorite people in Spain has written several books about El Camino de Santiago, the Pilgrimage of Saint James. It is a 500 mile journey undertaken by thousands of people each year from the northeastern corner of Spain (some begin the trek in France) across to Santiago de Compostela. Many people spend four to six weeks walking the Camino. 

Walk. Think. Wonder. Reflect on life. 
Stop for the night in albergues, hostel-style residences, 
that have been established for pilgrims to sleep in. 
Wash your clothes. 
Air out the blisters on your aching feet. 
Figure out dinner. Sleep. 
Get up and do it all again. 
Keep walking.

In his descriptions of the Camino, Jose Maria Olaizola, writes about the challenges of the journey, the physical, emotional, relational, spiritual challenges that this pilgrimage engenders. He ends his Camino journal, Peregrinar por fuera y por dentro (To make a pilgrimage both inside and outside) with a poem that he calls, "Toca seguir caminando." I love that title. It's a little tough to translate, but essentially it means, "Keep walking." 

Toca seguir caminando,
más allá de la sombra y la duda,
más allá de la muerte y el miedo,
bebiendo palabras prestadas,
confiando en las fuerzas ajenas
si acaso las propias se gastan

Toca seguir caminando,
acoger al peregrino,
relatar tu historia,
escuchar la suya
aliviar tristezas,
compartir mesa y vida,

Toca seguir caminando
con los ojos abiertos,
para descubrir al Dios vivo
que nos sale al encuentro
hecho amigo, pan y palabra.
En marcha, pues...

Here's my very, very, very rudimentary translation -

Keep walking,
beyond the shadow and the doubt,
beyond death and fear,
drinking borrowed words,
trusting in the strength of others
when one's own runs out

Keep walking,
welcoming the pilgrim,
telling your story,
listening to hers,
relieving sadnesses,
sharing table and life,

Keep walking
with your eyes open,
in order to discover the living God
who meets up with us
as friend, bread, and word.
So let's get underway...

following Graziella

This journey we're on might hurt. 
It will hurt.
Blisters happen.
Broken hearts happen.
Disappointment happens.
Getting lost happens.
Sadness happens.
Illness happens.
Loneliness happens.
Loss happens.
Death happens. 

All those things happen on the road, on the Camino.
They happen at home, within marriage and family and friendship.
They happen at church and in the neighborhood.
They happen in the workplace and the marketplace.
But we must press on. 
I press on. I keep walking.

It is good to travel.
It is good to come home.
It is good to write about my travels.
It is good to ponder them for weeks and months to come.
Whether here in Charlotte or over in Madrid,
visiting friends in Connecticut or making new ones in Bologna - 
Toca seguir caminando. 
Keep walking.

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