Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Camino Lessons: You Will Be Directed

When we are in a lost place, it can take a long time to find our bearings. We may start blaming ourselves for not knowing where we are.

And then we blame God. She must not want us to know anything. He must be hiding the signs. Maybe there aren't any signs at all.

Last year, I felt lost in my marriage. Our sense of direction as a couple was playing Hide and Seek with us. And when so many things were changing in my life, I began to think I would never know my direction again.

The Camino reminded me, in a gentle way, that Divine direction will return.  

Intermittently along the Camino, waymarkers show the path. Sometimes they are feet apart. Sometimes they're distanced by miles. And sometimes the markers are there, but the pilgrim can't see them - because she has looked away, or is hiking in the dark, or the rain has worn down the image. 

The sign of the Camino is the scallop shell. Shells are embedded in pavement, raised on highway signs, carved into stone pillars, or painted on rocks. 

Also, there's the yellow arrow. Arrows show up on fences, buildings, boulders. Or in other creative formations . . . .

"Did you see the arrow?" my hiking partner and I would ask each other a dozen times a day. This became shortened to a point and a gesture, or we'd simply say, "Arrow," and move on.

When you're road-weary from a day on the trail, and haven't seen a marker for the last hour, the absence of a sign fills you with despair.

The day's trek seems a waste. Everything hurts that can hurt. The stomach yowls with hunger.

And you feel forgotten. Overlooked. Incidental.

And then . . . there it is. The sign that says, "Yes. You're right where you belong."
Your heart does a happy handspring.

Indeed, the road winds through strange places. 

It twists behind a tumbledown shed, zigs around an alley, darts through a village overrun with chickens, plummets down a rocky traverse. But it is all okay, because you know you're on the right path.

Sometimes you have to wait for direction.

The waiting can be hard.

This doesn't mean you'll never know your place again.

When the assurance comes, it is sweet.

For me, sometimes I felt like crying, or singing. I wasn't just learning about yellow arrows and scallop shells, but what it is to trust.

In my life, in my marriage - it all began to unfold with possibility. With connection. With renewal. I saw the path forward.  

Since I've been home, that instinct to look for the signs has stayed with me. Once I saw a scallop shell in a wall mirror. I blinked, looked again, and recognized a pleated lampshade.

Another day I was feeling crunched at work and drove up the highway. Stopped and walked in a small town neighborhood. My heart recognized the shell before I knew what I was looking at.

Again, I was in the right place . . .  

The signs are everywhere.

Because we're meant to know.

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