The Camino’s extraordinary landscape gifts pilgrims with unforgettable sights and sounds. The French Pyrenees offered me soaring peaks, stunning slopes, and perfect plateaus while the less mountainous regions enveloped me in bright white and red poppies, sunflower fields, and seamlessly symmetrical vineyards. The occasional bark from a village dog or moo from a grazing cow briefly brought me back to reality. Crossing the physical Camino taught me to better appreciate God’s perfect creation—the slow sway of His grassy fields, the fresh falling of His morning mist, even the speedy darting of His tiny field mice crisscrossing my path ahead. The special silence of walking through forests full of ferny flora took me into God’s thin space—that sacred sphere where the Lord meets us in tangible ways.
And in this thin sacred place, God revealed to me two realities: His perfection and my imperfection. The Camino prompted me to reconcile the choices I had been making in my life that didn’t always respond to God’s perfect will. With a repentant heart, I reflected upon the times I intentionally walked (or even ran) away from Him, much like Jonah in today’s readings. And yet, God “redirected” the prophet for a grander, more salvific purpose in Nineveh: “At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here” (Luke 11:32).
Yes, there is something greater than Jonah, or you, or me, or the Camino here—it is God. Lent is a perfect time to not just think about God, but to be intentional about repenting and growing closer to Him. Today is a good time to reflect upon (and maybe adjust) our Lenten plans as we look forward to the weeks to come.
(Note from Braelyn) What you don't see in these photos: people dressing blisters, helping others with their sore joints and muscles, speaking hard truths to one another in love, and listening to one another's harrowing struggles. You don't smell the sweat or taste the tears. You can't feel the fear of failure or the feeling of awe and relief each time you make it to the day's destination. You can't hear the solitude of an open field while walking alone or the multi-sensory bustle of multi-lingual crowds while walking in a group. You can't feel the loneliness. You can't feel the annoyance.
What I hope you do see are truth, goodness, and beauty, and the mysterious ways in which those things appear in the strangest of places. Because you also don't hear the laughter or taste the third cup of café con leche shared with a friend that day. You can't hear the dozens of exchanges of "Buen Camino" or the singing of hymns.
About this Blog
The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage through Spain, ending at the spot said to contain the relics of Saint James the Apostle. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims travel this route each year.