11 March | The Second Wednesday of Lent
Heavily leaning on my trekking poles and my husband’s arm, I barely made it to mid-day chapel Mass at the León Cathedral in Spain. Once seated, my debilitating shin splints made it impossible for me to lower my legs on the wooden kneelers. After my first 25 days hiking the Camino, I wholly felt the physical suffering the Way offers her pilgrims. And I was not alone. I met many other peregrinas who endured a myriad of maladies: torn tendons and tight muscles; throbbing neck and knee pain, bone fractures and fissures; blisters and sun/windburns—all of which now seem to be rites of passage.
Providentially, before hiking the Way we planned to stay an extra day in León; we thought it would be good to take a rest day. By the time we arrived, not only did I need rest, but I also needed a miraculous healing. And God delivered! Just at the right time, God positioned a Finnish nurse, a Spanish pharmacist, and my American massage therapist to instruct me how to alleviate my pain! Within 48 hours (just in time to head back on the road), I was healed! And perhaps even more providentially, a couple of days later we met two high school boys—one of whom could barely walk due to his shin splints. It was my turn to help—to teach and to serve.
Today’s Gospel reading depicts Jesus teaching His disciples about serving and His true nature as the ultimate Servant: “Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your servant. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20: 27-28). Lent is a good time to reflect on how we serve others through our acts of almsgiving. What are some ways we can continue serving others, even after Lent is over?
Braelyn: I made this sketch during one of the most physically excruciating portions of my Camino. The orange was a gift from a fellow pilgrim when I was in too much pain to walk. I never realized I would need to take a taxi or a bus to make my deadline, but my knees told me otherwise. I have been blessed with good health and few injuries, and tend to be incredibly unwilling to ask for help. The experience addressed both areas of weakness. A fellow pilgrim, a doctor, assessed my swollen tendons; this was a lesson in trust. Who's to say if people are telling the truth about who they are or if they have good intentions? Two hospitalideros allowed me to stay two nights in their Albergue (in exchange, I helped out by checking in English-speaking guests). Another pilgrim brought me ice from a nearby restaurant when the hostel didn't have a freezer. Many people back home prayed for me. It is humbling to see people from all over the world experiencing the same aches, pains, and delivering the same compassion. This small bit of suffering re-emphasized the physical suffering of our Lord, who willingly took on flesh intended for pain.
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.