By Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila
Joyce Rupp, author of Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino, tells about the preparation for her 37-day, 500-mile pilgrimage along the Camino in Spain. Each day for four months, she and her companion Tom hiked with heavy back packs. They walked, talked, prayed, copied maps, nursed foot blisters and conversed with others who had made the trek. She relates how in the beginning she resented being called away from her usual daily routine to get up in the early hours of the morning and walk, walk, walk, until she felt she could not take another step, and then walk some more.
In the midst of her groaning and grumbling, she visited her spiritual director (Joyce is a religious sister) who reminded her that “the preparation is as important as the journey itself.” This advice made her ponder and as time went on, she realized how true it is that we must give ourselves time and the willingness to prepare for what we desire. She points out that:
“Preparing to walk the Camino taught me how necessary it is to remember the benefits and rewards of endless preparation in any aspect of life. When I am struggling to meet the deadlines in writing a book, I forget the pleasure of bringing the contents of a book together. Parents who are raising children to adulthood can miss the beauty and joy of these young ones as they nurture, care for, and discipline them. Students easily sidestep the marvelous things they learn as they face the pressure of grades and papers. Parish staffs lose sight of the possibilities of spiritual growth when they get mired in endless planning for formation programs and liturgical celebrations. Managers and organizers fail to notice the difference their hard work makes in the lives of their employees.”
How true! Yes, we do prepare in one way or another for the steps that we take along the pathway of our life, but after reflecting on Joyce’s experiences and the depth of her planning and preparation – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, I realize that many times my preparation is not nearly enough. Not preparing enough just results in worry and anxiety, both of which distract me from the beauty and joys of the journey.
We desire changes in our lives but are often unwilling to make the small sacrifices necessary to make these changes happen. The preparation for life takes a lifetime and is an on-going continuing process. Such preparation may require of us some unexpected time and energy, a reorganization of our routines, the sacrifices of some things in order to make room for other things. But I know that each step of my life’s journey has, in a way, prepared me for the next phase of my life.
What makes life exciting is that we cannot see what lies ahead, what God has in store for us. We just prepare in faith for the journey ahead as best we can, trusting in His grace to help us along the way when we falter. Joyce says: “This much I know: in the end, going prepared by doing the work required, by paying the price demanded, will make the new growth worth the effort. … The preparation is definitely as important as the journey itself.” I heartily agree!