I think back on family vacations- our greatest memories were the unplanned parts: Our family of four went to Memphis in the Mini Cooper, we saw ALL of Graceland, went to Beale Street for catfish, saw the duck parade at the Peabody and now we are on the Trolley, EXHAUSTED! Then, a lovely woman kindly asks our son to watch up ahead to see something…”That’s Hotel Lorraine, that is where Martin Luther King was shot, I can tell you are tired, but I would like to share my city with you all and this is our Civil Rights museum…I hope you can find time to see it.”
We got off the trolley and five hours later we were so thankful this lady had guided us there. It remains a favorite vacation memory and a beloved discovery…God sent, God was with us!
Recently, my daughter decided to go walk part of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Knowing it was a long time dream of her father to do this, she asked if he would like to go with her. Of course he said yes! I was the afterthought. It was not my idea of a vacation. Honestly, the only reasons I went were:
1. I did not want to be left alone here for two weeks. AND
2. I did not want to regret not going.
We backpacked 150 miles, from Pamplona to Burgos in 10 days. On our second night, my feet covered in blisters, Vivian wants to go to a church service in Estella. (They have church every evening.) I start groaning. Vivian proceeds to tell me (a little sarcastically) that it is just across the street.
Well we go…the church is beautiful, but a catholic service in Spanish, and I am tired and I hurt. Sorry, I just was not into it, until the end. The priest called all the pilgrims to the front for a blessing. As he asked the 25-30 of us where we were all from: Denmark, South Africa, France, Germany, Australia, Brazil and USA, he began to greet us all individually in our own languages. He gave us all a card with the Pilgrims Blessing in our language and then closes with a prayer remembering each of us with our names and origins in the prayer. WOW! After the service he asked me, “How many year?”
I said, “50”
He said, “No, How many year together?”
I replied, “27”
He said, “Wonderful! Verynicefamily.”
I will never forget that blessing, all of a sudden my feet did not hurt as much and I was glad I came! God is with when we travel! After that night we began each day with the prayer of the Pilgrims…that blessing changed the trip for me, and I think for all of us.
…Be for us,
a companion on our journey
The guide on our intersections
The strengthening during fatigue
The fortress in danger
The resource on our itinerary
The shadow in our heat
The light in our darkness
The consolation during dejection
And the power of our intention
So that we under your guidance, safely and unhurt, may reach the end of our journey and strengthened with gratitude and power, secure and filled with happiness, may join our home.
For Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
…from Prayer of the Pilgrims (Virgen del Puy de Estella)