Just about every week, I have to wrestle with a question that pops up in my mind…what’s the point of all this? It is silly to explore why I’m even asking this question and I suppose I could ignore it altogether. But I find it helps me to renew my commitment to this lenten pilgrimage by considering, yet again, why I’m doing this in the first place.
Each time I seem to have a different answer. As I started the pilgrimage four weeks ago, I wanted the focus that a drawn walk would provide. I revelled in being outdoors every day, moving my legs, breathing in the fresh air, thinking, praying, really looking at the landscape around me. Then I realized a simplicity to that focused journey and enjoyed the gifts and treasures I was discovering along the way. Now I seem to be settling into a less revelatory phase where I’m just walking and listening.
The listening is just that…listening. I’m tuning my ears to the sounds around me…birdsong, woodpecker, traffic, animal sounds from the farms, wind, rain, neighbors talking. I really love this! Just listening.
And walking. Just walking. That’s it. I’m trying to simply be present to the path, the pavement, the places my feet take me. My ruminating thoughts try to take me away to past events or future worries, but I wrangle them into just the rhythm of walking, and they enjoy a reprieve as I listen. Today. Tomorrow. And the next day.
I imagine if I were walking the Camino do Santiago or some other long walk, there would be days where nothing of real consequence happens. There would be days of just walking and walking and all the simple things that surround that – eating, resting, talking with fellow pilgrims, washing out clothes, sleeping. Good days of moving forward but not really feeling like you’re making headway.
Robert Mullen, in his book Call of the Camino, says this:
“So far as I had seen until now, it was just the walking that mattered, the simple act of walking, not the path or the crosses or the good will or the good offices of a long dead saint. It was the walking, day after day, in any sort of weather. The complexity of modern life was thus reduced to just one simple, straightforward, recurring task, that of getting oneself from place to place by one’s own efforts alone.” pg. 87.
This is not a solitary walk for Mullen. He definitely recounts the companionship of fellow pilgrims along the Camino, no matter how quirky they may be. But at this point in his story, he is finding his stride in simply walking day after day, a repetitive, meditative activity.
I do not always experience this simple-ness in my life or on my walks. Perhaps it is due to having taken a pilgrimage right here at home, in and amongst my common everyday life. All the more reason to make the effort of leaving it all back at the house when I step out the door and just listening as I walk. Walking as I listen. Nothing else.
You might like to try this too! Just walk. And listen.