Monday, July 2, 2012

Waking Up is Hard to Do

Last night or the night before, I can’t rightly remember which, I woke in the middle of the night and headed to the toilet. I walked the old familiar pathway from the bed I share with Katie out our bedroom door down the short hallway cluttered with clothes we’re always sorting and into the bathroom on my right.

As I did so I thought, “Cool! When I wake up, I have to tell Marian that the layout of this hotel room is exactly like the layout upstairs at home.”

By the time I was back in bed thirty seconds later, I realized that I had been walking in dream. But I realized something else too.

I realized that the Camino de Santiago is still imprinted in me, though my daughter Marian and I completed it over two weeks ago, and she stayed in Spain while I came home. I am no longer in Santiago de Compostela or any of the villages or towns along the Way, but the Way is still inside me.

I am in full-scale rebellion against the idea that I have come “back to reality.” Today, while talking with a business neighbor of mine, I said, when asked, that I had had a great trip.

“Getting back to the routine?” he asked, not looking away from his computer.

“Yeah,” I said. “I guess so.” But then the rebel in me added, “Though it’s anything but routine.”

I only half lied. We all have routines, even pilgrims, and I am back to many of my own. The routines haven’t changed much since I came home, but my attitudes to them have. “The Camino will change you,” André told me in Navarrete. “The Camino makes you a pilgrim,” Monique added in St. Jean Pied de Port, although she said it before André. And they were both right.

It is this inner change, this “making myself a pilgrim,” that I have tried to hang onto and foster, knowing full well that I will still get up and make the coffee each morning at the same coffee maker, and pad down the same hallway to the same bathroom at night. But even here the Camino continues, because I do. But I do only because something else does. My life as a pilgrim is contingent on my destination and the path I follow to reach it. Otherwise, I am lost in the wilderness.

In the Gospel reading for today, Christ tells a disciple: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” Since returning to the States, I have noticed a lot of deadness, in my routines and outside them. It’s easy to focus on the deadness, as the disciple did who wanted to leave Christ to bury his father. The key for me lies in staying and following.

On the Camino we followed a series of yellow arrows westward, knowing that they would lead to a place called Santiago. This gave us pilgrims a tremendous inner freedom.

Here at home, for the Camino to continue, for the freedom to endure, I need to keep following. Follow what? “Follow me.”

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