Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"Godliness with Contentment is Great Gain." (NIV)

This verse in I Timothy 6:6 has been going through my head ever since I have been home from my Camino, and at least part of it is that the greatest result from my pilgrimage has been that I have "found my peace." So, really, I have found some contentment in my life and in my current state in life.  That doesn't mean that I'm like Mary Poppins ("Practically Perfect in Every Way")--Not by a long shot!

Graffiti in Yellow on a Grey wall that says, "Still a long way to go!"
This is some of the Camino-related graffiti that is on the trail...If you can't read it, it says, "Still a long way to go!" It was at about the 150 km mark from Santiago.  One of my friends told me after the fact that she mentally gave the writer the middle finger when she saw this.  Of course, she had already walked about 650 km at that point, too!

One of the things I'm realizing as I integrate back into my "real life:" I am still the same person I was before I left, only more joyful. I still struggle with getting up in the mornings, especially if my niece and I left the A/C on all night.  I still struggle with being lazy at work, and procrastinating (although staying on track is easier since coming back).  I still struggle with what it means to be creative, and what my role is at my place of employment.  And, I still struggle with doing the same chores that I found onerous before I left for Spain! The difference is that I don't feel this all-consuming discontent about my life and where I am.  I don't have that "itch" in my gut that is telling me that I need to be doing SOMETHING (only God knows what) to change where, what, or who I am right now.

This is the Femur bone of St. Benedict, the father of Monasticism.  It was given to the Monastery in Samos by the Monastery in Monte Cassino in order to show how important their community is to history (this monastery is the oldest monastery built to care for pilgrims on the Camino) and to the Benedictines.
That is why we have so many different types of saints--It is because God doesn't change us into something that we aren't when we become saints.  Instead, he makes us into the people He truly intended us to be, and in the process, we become lenses for His Love to shine through to the people around us.  That means what I would look like as a saint, and we are ALL called to be saints, is different from any of the saints that have gone before. Honestly, I really like the idea that God doesn't make cookie cutter saints--only one type of saint would be boring, and it would mean that only certain personalities would have a fighting chance of becoming one!

This particular sign in Leon made me giggle--we have been prohibited, El Paso!

One one level, I have expecting the contentment to dissipate because I have a hard time believing that it can last the onslaught of all the craziness that is my life. While walking the Camino, life had a different pace and a different rhythm to it... But, it hasn't been going away, and for that I am very thankful.  For the first time in my life, I can truly say that I am comfortable in my own skin--something I'm not sure I have ever truly felt until this point.  Now that I have been home for a little over a week, I'm beginning to suspect that this contentment may last for the long-term, and that is a joy and a blessing in and of itself.

As I have been exploring this contentment (much like a child worries a loose tooth), I think a large part of it stems from the fact that I have come to a greater understanding of what it means to trust God, no matter what the circumstances.  Like I told one of my co-workers upon coming back, I didn't get the Camino that wanted, but I got the Camino that I needed. God seems to be incredibly good at that, just like any good parent would be!

The arrow on this post is actually pointing right, but I really liked the blurb someone had written on it, about 100 km away from Santiago: "No amount of miles can make a mockery of IRON WILL."

I also gained some insight into how my free-will interacts with God's plan for me.  Heck, I think I became the queen of getting lost while on my Camino, in spite of the fact that I was trying to faithfully follow the arrows along the trail.  And really, I only ever had to backtrack once.  All of the other times, my "lostness" ended up becoming slight detours that, pleasant or otherwise, still got me closer to my goal.  Some of my prettiest pictures were the result of getting lost, so good even came of those times when I wasn't sure of where exactly I was going.  This process made me realize how utterly ridiculous my deepest fear and insecurity really is: I have always feared that I would wake up some day and find that I had totally missed God's will for my life.  Pilgrimage is our walk with God writ small, you see, and every time I lost the trail or got lost, because I was seeking those arrows, I never strayed very far.  There were also people along the way that pointed me in the right direction (and a few that got me lost unintentionally--unless you know the pilgrim has walked this way before, DON'T follow their directions!!!).  If God sees to it that I don't end up in the middle of Nowhere, Spain, how much more will He see to it that I fulfill His will for my life, especially if I am seeking it out?

So, I am basking in the contentment and joy that I have been given, and seeking to be more godly in my thoughts and my actions.  I'm not there yet, but my prayer of late has simply been, "God, make me a saint."  I don't know if I will ever make it, especially considering all of the selfish, thoughtless things I do on a pretty regular basis, but the Yellow Arrows embedded in the Sacraments, Scripture, the lives of the Saints, and in my little corner of the Church Militant keep me moving forward and redirects my path.  As C.S. Lewis writes in The Last Battle,

Come further up! Come further in!