Why would I pick a fight with nuns? I seem to bump into several of them walking the Camino. I’m walking for spiritual reasons. They’re walking for religious reasons.
As I mentioned in my book “My Camino Walk – a Way to Healing,” (published 2016 by IslandCatEditions) when I walked in 2010, I met a nun from California. She provided a suitable scapegoat for my rant about the history of the Catholic Church: the Crusades, the Reformation, the Inquisition, the Residential Schools, the physical mistreatment and sexual abuse of young people, the patriarchy and other injustices.
She successfully deflected my vitriol by agreeing that the history of the Church is not good but that she was involved in what she hoped was a meaningful way by working with poor people and drug addicts.
I realize one can’t pick a fight with someone who agrees with you. However, her good works and compassion are to me core human principles.
So, in my eyes, she is forgiven. I suppose I am looking for the Church to provide social services which have not always been its mandate.
I have been back in Toronto for two weeks. If you know anything about the Camino, those who walk it send an inordinate amount of time thinking about their pilgrimage. Then we walk it again and again and again despite sometimes the physical challenges of such a strenuous journey. There’s possibly a lesson that I myself don’t ever seem to learn very well. Perhaps I’m a slow learner and will have to walk it again. As if I need an excuse!
Walking northward through the center of Spain from Seville to Santiago de Compostela, during the day, I often had to carry with me my food and water.
I found small communities that had no cafés, supermarkets or open churches. I saw this as the death of community because this infrastructure, for better or worse, is what brings people together. I shared my lament with another nun, thinking that I might find agreement. She looked at me kind of strange as if to say: “yes, well what is your point?”
That’s my lesson: to accept what the journey has to offer and not try to custom-design my experience. In the early stages the weather was too hot; later it was too cold. Sometimes the walking distances were too far to walk for comfort.
I ask what I am looking for? Is it some highly catered luxury tour staying at five-star hotels, butlers ready to do my bidding at every step of the way, eating at only three-star rated Michelin restaurants? Or do I want to find out what life is about by being more accepting of the events that life serves me? Again I ask myself continually, why is it that I walk the Camino?
The Buddhists say it’s attachment to the expectation that causes suffering. As soon as I realized erroneously that I was trying to pick and choose the components that are the most comfortable then I was able to enjoy my whole journey.