By Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila
As I continue my Lenten reflections with Joyce Rupp in her book Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino, I am struck by her unquenchable spirit of adventure. Despite daily hardships along the Camino trail, she remained fully alive to the experience. She approached the pilgrimage as an adventure more than as an accomplishment, looking at each day as a precious gift “holding countless possibilities of growth and newness.”
Being a religious sister, Joyce had been taught to be attentive to the Spirit, but it was while she walked the Camino that she learned that she also had to be attentive to her body, to its complaints, to its energy level, to its ability to gain strength in the simple exercise of walking. She found that beauty sustained her during the challenging moments, relieving her tiredness, and replenishing her joy of being alive. The Camino became for her, not just a pilgrimage, but an opportunity to be aware of the beauty of all of God’s creation.
Her life began to take on new meaning as she was influenced by the kindness of strangers along the way. One pilgrim gave her ointment and advice on how to cope with recurring blisters on her sore feet. Another went out of his way to help them (Joyce and her companion) find better lodgings for the night. Joyce comments, “The kindness of strangers on the Camino became a constant teacher for me. Each gesture of goodness stood out as a lesson in love. Each opportunity to receive an unexpected gift of care was an occasion to grow in both amazement and awareness of how powerful these simple gestures can be. They not only provide for a need, they also bring hope to the heart.”
“Footsteps and Fingerprints”, the title of my Sunday column in the Negros Chronicle newspaper published in Dumaguete, was originally meant to focus on people and happenings that had made a difference in my life. The reflections of Joyce Rupp now add a fresher perspective to this phrase. I should not only include those who had made significant differences in my life, but also remember those people whose simple acts of kindness and concern brought hope to my heart.
Many times kindness, caring and concern are present in the people around us but we (and that includes me) are so busy with our own activities, our unending schedules, our own life, that we can easily as Joyce says “ignore the goodness extended to me by another.” She continues, “How much each of us misses when we overfocus on life’s busyness. Kindness … lifts our spirit when we are consumed with activity, gives us hope in our discouragement, reminds us someone loves us when we feel ragged and torn inside, and helps restore our belief in the goodness of others.”
As we experience Holy Week, as we focus our reflections on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, let us not forget that even in the Gospel passages of this week, that there are many instances of goodness and kindness extended from one to another. Simon the Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross. Jesus stopped and spoke to the women. Veronica wiped His face. Even in his direst agony, Jesus forgave! His disciple John comforted Mary at the foot of the cross. Kindness. Caring and Concern. Love that gives us hope. Little acts of kindness that restore our belief in mankind and our desire to continue our life adventure.
Truly life is an adventure. I realize now as I reflect on my life how in every stage of my journey, at every turning of the path, I was blest to encounter others who, through their kindness and caring, gave me the strength and hope to continue on when I was reluctant to venture out of my comfort zone into an unknown future. When I now look at every day as an adventure because it is new, I find that the adventure is not so much about what I do in my life but how I approach and embrace it. Each day becomes a time to share kindness and the sense of adventure with others, to realize that today, and every day, is an adventure daring me, daring each of us, to be fully alive!