“As I have stated before this trip has not been exactly what I had expected, if I had indeed expected anything. I remain open to whatever it is I am supposed to learn.”
– from my travel journal, May 26, 2010
My experiences on our recent pilgrimage across northern Spain had not been at all what I had expected. I suppose if I had expected anything I had imagined it would occur during some solitary contemplative time walking the Camino de Santiago, perhaps some great revelation about my life’s purpose, or an ah-ha moment about how to take my business to higher heights. Or maybe I thought I would be knocked to the ground and temporarily blinded like the Apostle Paul on his journey to Damascus in some sort of conversion experience. No such luck. Instead, as my journal notes reveal, there existed a common theme throughout most of the trip of not knowing exactly what to expect, until . . .
. . . As I described in my journal on May 28, “It was sometime during our lunch today, that I experienced perhaps my greatest moment on the trip so far.” It occurred while Tee and I were lunching with one of our travel companions, a total stranger up until the time of this trip but who we had quickly befriended. Almost out of the blue she began to share with us one of the most personal and sacred moments in her life, an experience that had brought her intimately into God’s presence. It seemed strange that she would tell us such a thing, and so spontaneously at that, for she did not seem to be a particularly religious person. So why she had chosen to share this very personal experience with us we have no idea. Her story was brief, matter-of-fact, though somewhat emotional, and never mentioned again; except, the next evening while having our last dinner together as a travel group our friend rose from her chair at the other end of the long table where we were all seated, walked around to Tee and me and gave each of us a kiss on the cheek. Then without a word she returned to her seat. End of story.
So the trip was not what I had expected, if indeed I had expected anything. But I did learn why I was there walking the Camino – to provide companionship and hospitality to a fellow pilgrim. And that is, as we learned, the great tradition of the Camino de Santiago.