Time is quickly slipping by since my epic Camino adventure and the memories are still swirling in my brain. Before I put into words all the great adventures of my walk I feel it’s important to reflect on how I got there. One of the great gifts God has given us humans is free will. We can choose to listen to what He says and say yes or to ignore and move forward with our own desires. Often we do not intentionally ignore the path that God has for us but instead, we become so involved in day to day life we fail to listen. I have no doubt the Camino de Santiago was a crossroad God placed in my path. Did I ignore messages that God was sending me, many times. Did he give up on me, NEVER.
Roughly eight years ago I was listening to a talk radio show (coincidence? #1) one of the hosts was walking a short distance on the Camino de Santiago. I had no idea what they were referring to and really didn’t think much of it that day. Days, weeks, months passed and those words, Camino de Santiago, kept popping up in my thoughts. Finally, I googled the words and was intrigued by the thought of quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Over the years I joined Camino forums and Facebook pages, reading the experience of others. I was inspired, I hung a canvas map of the Camino in my office for inspiration. I dreamed of the walk, then moved on with my day to day life. Every so often the Camino would come back into my thoughts and I eventually put it on the when I retire bucket list. The ultimate plan became to use the Camino as a time to decompress from my stressful career as I transitioned into retirement life. In October of 2017, I submitted my retirement paperwork and thought April would be a great month to start my walk. Uncertainty and FEAR crept into my thoughts, I doubted the Camino was for me so I did not move forward. God, however, did not give up on me and kept planting the seeds and I occasionally listened.
You heard me correctly, I occasionally listened. I was not intentionally not listening, I lacked faith in Gods plan for me and my abilities. I had no doubt I knew what was best and was having a hard time hearing what God knew was best for me. One day (coincidence? #2) I received an email concerning a group being formed for the Camino lead by Gus Lloyd, radio host on SiriusXM Channel 129 (the Catholic Channel). I quickly read the email and moved on knowing this was not for me. My mind, however, did not let go of the email and several days later I went back and reviewed the email again. This time I prayed to God, I made a genuine effort to listen. Within days I had submitted the forms and payments, I was now committed.
Several months after signing up I received a group email from Gus with training tips. I noticed one of the members of the group was a friend from a prior pilgrimage. I sent her a facebook message and within weeks the two of us had moved from being solo travelers (coincidence? #3) into roommates for the trip. This lovely lady who is so full of faith and joy taught me to open my heart too joyful confession regardless of the burden needing to be confessed. More on that in a future blog. Eventually, a Facebook page was created so we could begin to meet and bond with our fellow pilgrims. Once again FEAR and lack of confidence crept in. It seems this group was full of endurance athletes. Anyone who knows me knows athlete is not a word one would use to describe me. I can recall some pretty entertaining memories of me and hurdles LOL. I was ready to drop out, willing to lose my downpayment. Again I decided to listen, I prayed to ask God if I had heard him incorrectly, should I drop out of this trip. As always God had my back and just to make sure I was hearing Him He sent a very clear message to me. Two days after I prayed for clarity a new member was added to our group, a replacement for someone who had to drop out. This replacement (coincidence? #4) was Mary Ann. My mothers name is Mary Ann, I had no doubt God was telling me I was in the right place.
Later during the journey I was discussing these chains of events with Gus, he told me the 1st email that I received was never meant to be sent out to the general public, yet it did go out. There is no such thing as a coincidence, God has a plan for us, he puts things in our path to lead us to what we need, we only need to be willing to listen and hear so as to help us make the choice best for us.
I hope you find encouragement in the message and know God has a great plan for you. Even in times of despair have faith, God is with you and if you listen a crossroad is in your future.
Please continue to follow my blog to see what the Camino and those faithful, fantastic, fellow pilgrims provided too me. Please pray for me to continue to listen, to hear what God’s plan are for me. I will also pray for you.