Today marks a milestone day in my preparation for pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. I am six weeks out from departure. From the moment the thought entered my head almost four years ago, I knew this day would be one when I would become even more serious, and begin the most final stage of anticipation for the experience.
For me, it’s not a casual thing to prepare for such a journey, walking daily some 45 days and 550 miles solo across a country where I’ve never been.
The first real stage of my preparation actually began two months ago. As the cliche’ goes, I began preparing my mind, my soul, my heart and my body. For someone like me, the danger has never been lack of preparation. Rather it has always been preparing too vigorously, too soon, and getting burned out instead of peaking at just the right time before the real pilgrimage begins. I’m obsessive-complusive like that. It’s not something that’s going to change.
Today, my legs are comfortable at a daily base of 7-8 miles. That number needs to be at a solid 15 by October 17. So, there remains much work to be done.
I’m reading and studying my bible more aggressively than at any time maybe in the last 10 years. It’s so refreshing. Why I had wondered so far from this important daily time, I may never understand, but I’m thankful to be back in that practice that is now my most important time of day.
I’ve prayed about, and have selected a team of five people I will ask to pray for me along this journey. I’ve yet to contact these folks, but the time is coming soon, and I’m confident they will be pleased to do so. I hope to make these people a special part of my journey.
I’m reading heavily in the secular areas as well, about adventure, and new ways to think, and how men have approached the second half of their lives with different thoughts about intention. I’m really trying to broaden the way I see the world, and have a greater capacity for understanding.
A few times before, I’ve done some things that I considered as pretty big personal challenges. And I’ve always enjoyed the necessary time of preparation that leads up to the actual “thing.” This time is actually as much about the journey, and the learning, as the actual journey itself. Having now experienced two months of that “preparatory training time,” I feel as good about myself as a person as I’ve felt in a long time.
But still, I have so many questions about where this journey is going, and how it will play out.
- I wonder just how much I will miss my family. I’ve never been separated from them more than three weeks. The camino will require seven weeks and change. I know the answer. I’ll miss them a lot.
- I wonder how the pilgrimage will affect me as a writer. Will this experience bring me to a point where I actually sit down with intention to write something real and significant?
- I think some people actually misunderstand the camino as a magical place that offers the answers to life. I view it as more of a quiet, private time in the “wilderness” where I focus on listening and the chance God will truly speak to me if He so chooses. I wonder if He will do so, and if He will do it with clarity? I’m working on listening to Him. He will do His part. I must do mine.
- I wonder if I will be able to see the pilgrimage experience for what it really is, and look far beyond all the metaphors and clichés? I want this experience to make me a better person.
- I wonder if this will be a time when I can forgive myself for some of my most regretful sins and shortcomings.
- I wonder what it will be like to experience “homelessness” for 45 days, waking up in a different place every single morning.
- This is not an unimportant question. I wonder if my body will hold up for 550 miles across unpredictable weather, elevation changes and a pretty radical change in what it’s been accustomed to for the last five years.
- I wonder if this experience will somehow make me a better husband, and father, and son.
- I wonder if it will actually offer me some clarity of thought for direction and purpose for the last few decades of my life. This may be the thing I desire most from the camino.
- I wonder if it will help me feel the things I feel all the more deeply.
- I wonder if it will help me better understand the Truth of Life, and the real, unmasked, uncomplicated truth about myself.
- At this journey’s conclusion, I wonder what will be next. I have a hint that I may actually already know. Lord, help me if it’s true.
Big questions. Maybe this journey will shed light on a few of them. Maybe none. Only God knows.
But it’s fun and exciting to contemplate. That’s worth something for sure.
Now, on to less serious things for the day. There’s a Labor Day cookout to conquer.