I am no longer in Santiago de Compostela or any of the villages or towns along the Way, but the Way is still inside me.
I am in full-scale rebellion against the idea that I have come “back to reality.” Today, while talking with a business neighbor of mine, I said, when asked, that I had had a great trip.
“Getting back to the routine?” he asked, not looking away from his computer.
“Yeah,” I said. “I guess so.” But then the rebel in me added, “Though it’s anything but routine.”
I only half lied. We all have routines, even pilgrims, and I am back to many of my own. The routines haven’t changed much since I came home, but my attitudes to them have. “The Camino will change you,” André told me in Navarrete. “The Camino makes you a pilgrim,” Monique added in St. Jean Pied de Port, although she said it before André. And they were both right.
It is this inner change, this “making myself a pilgrim,” that I have tried to hang onto and foster, knowing full well that I will still get up and make the coffee each morning at the same coffee maker, and pad down the same hallway to the same bathroom at night. But even here the Camino continues, because I do. But I do only because something else does. My life as a pilgrim is contingent on my destination and the path I follow to reach it. Otherwise, I am lost in the wilderness.
In the Gospel reading for today, Christ tells a disciple: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” Since returning to the States, I have noticed a lot of deadness, in my routines and outside them. It’s easy to focus on the deadness, as the disciple did who wanted to leave Christ to bury his father. The key for me lies in staying and following.
On the Camino we followed a series of yellow arrows westward, knowing that they would lead to a place called Santiago. This gave us pilgrims a tremendous inner freedom.
Here at home, for the Camino to continue, for the freedom to endure, I need to keep following. Follow what? “Follow me.”
I ask you dear reader... what are you following?
We all follow something.
What are you following?