By Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila
This Lenten season I am reading a wonderfully inspiring book by Sis Joyce Rupp, Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino, as the guide for my Lenten reflections. It is my practice each Lenten period to select a book by a Christian author to accompany me in my prayer time with the Lord. As I journey with her, I would like to share some of my reflections with you, my friends, during this Lenten time. This is the first installment.
“Camino” is the Spanish word for “road, journey, way, or path.” In this instance Sis Joyce and her friend Fr. Tom Pfeffer, a retired priest, both senior citizens, walked the 500 mile (about 800 km) Camino way as pilgrims from the town of Roncesvalles across northern Spain to Santiago, ending their journey at the Cathedral and tomb of St. James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela.
In her book of reflections on their 37-day trek, she likens their daily challenges, joys and frustrations to our life’s journey from day to day, year to year. She writes: “Every significant journey changes us in some way. We are hardly ever aware of this while we are in the midst of it. … It is only in looking back, that we gasp in amazement at what was being formed and shaped in our lives. Then we are able to identify the journey’s ability to propel us into unexpected growth. … So much of what we learn from our noteworthy journeys depends on what we experience and how we go about responding.”
I have always felt that the Lenten season is a gift from God to allow us to take a close look at our lives, the challenges we have met and are undergoing, and the manner in which we have responded, learned, and grown, in other words, a kind of annual pilgrimage. Sis Joyce observes that one of her learnings during their pilgrimage was that what she did with her life was not as important as how she did her life. She says: “The Camino reminded me that life is always going to have both ups and downs. I need to accept this as a natural process of growth and stop trying so hard to make it go my way.”
As I look back at my life’s journey, I can now see the times that I worked so hard to make things go my way, to try to make other people behave the way I thought they should behave, to feel bad when others didn’t react the way I felt they should have done. I even carried around with me the guilt of others who made mistakes in opposition to what I thought they should do. It was only when I learned through spiritual direction to let go and let God be God that I began, in the words of Sis Joyce, to walk in a relaxed manner, to accept life’s ups and downs as the natural process of growth, and to stop trying so hard to make life around me go my way.