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Step by Step along the Way 5


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Fr Anthony is coming to the end of the Camino. Here’s his latest post.

Can’t see the forest for the trees? Trying looking for the pilgrim’s shell…
Here are a few thoughts the night before the final day….

We are a day from Santiago, 20 kms in fact. The destination is not really important to me, but I will leave thoughts of the destination to another time.

However, the last few days have generated some reflection. Some of these thoughts have been about St. James (but probably more about me), but more so about walking the pathway with fellow travellers.

Who knows why most of these people are walking? Who knows or cares whether there is any spiritual value for them in the physicality of pilgrimage? Something that has become much clearer for me is the common need for sheer groundedness as a human being. The Spanish Camino winds its way through a mostly rural setting. In our urban settings in Australia, we see land as pure asset – and more recently in terms of “affordability”. Along the Camino, land is productive; it is mostly farming land, even among the more populated urban regions. In our highly urbanised suburbia, we have lost the connection with the productive value of land. It is either private or recreational. But land and space is creative and productive, and we hide away this dimension of creation from our every day sight.
I have become more convinced – literally with every step that I have taken – that whatever the “crisis of faith” might be today, it centres around a couple of things. One is a sense of “location”, a sense of “time and place”. This is not just a physical time and place, but more to do with a sense of consciousness; a sense of who and where we are as human beings and where we are headed, if, indeed, we are headed anywhere. Long gone are notions of a fixed universe, replaced the fluidity of time and space and everything, opening up new cosmic consciousness. The language of cosmology, as mystical and awe-inspiring as it can be, when bereft of Pure Love as Source, Sustainer and Destiny, can become broodingly cold and isolating and dislocate us from our internal home ground. As an example, in the words of Carl Sagen, we live on nothing more than a “pale, blue dot” hanging precariously in the infinite darkness of multi-verses. No wonder, as human beings, we question whether life means anything at all, while, at the same time, having an intense, internal sense that life means everything. Why do people go on pilgrimage? To situate themselves; not necessarily as believers, but as human beings. I get a sense that everyone on this trek – believer, questioner or otherwise – is just trying to get their bearings in life. That is the power of pilgrimage.

The other powerful dimension of pilgrimage is “embodiment”. As you walk, you ignore your body at your own peril. You need to be alert to the niggles, the strains, the soreness, the hunger and the thirst, and attentive to what you are seeing and hearing and smelling. You become conscious of your fragile self, your inner strength and determination, your need and dependence on companions, and of the experience of “groundedness”, that you are a participant of God’s earthly creation and not separated from it. Beyond the “shell” of our human existence, lies the invitation to a true sacramental sense of “embodiment” – that the consciousness of our bodily existence is an eternal gift.

I am not focussed on Santiago. Life is a pilgrimage. I hope that the gift of time and space may continue to be a blessing of deep reflection.

Date Posted Title Listen Download
May 20, 2017 Step by Step along the Way 5 Listen Download