Part 1 – From St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Orisson
The path starts off easy but quickly turns into a steep ascent 900m above sea level. This is often a wet, cold, and foggy climb, but on a clear day the view of the Pyrenees is breathtaking, all verdant peaks and meadows.
The hills are alive with the sound of walking.
Each time I contemplated writing this post, the same song popped into my head. Yes, it is from “The Sound of Music”. No, it’s neither “Do-Re-Mi” nor “My Favorite Things”. It’s not so much the audio part of the song as the visual that left an impression. On her way to the Von Trapp family mansion, Julie Andrews aka Maria sings “I Have Confidence In Me”. There she is, facing both her doubts and excitement, and skipping happily with bag and guitar case in tow.
Aren’t those supposed to be heavy? Shouldn’t she be dropping them on the side of the road before breaking into song? Wheels were added to suitcases for a reason, were they not? Because we may “have confidence in sunshine” but when the lifting gets heavy, we, traveling humans, break into a sweat.
In my last post I talked about turning on the light, about the sacred brightness of trust, so crucial while journeying with fear. Today I’m writing about the pure lightness of faith when stepping into one’s inner unknown hauling luggage that has not been prepped for the trek.
Most pilgrims carry backpacks weighing more than 20lbs, filled with a change of clothes, a rain poncho, toiletries and more. Others choose to pay a few euros every day and get their luggage transferred by taxi to their next destination so as to avoid back and knee injuries and reduce the general toll on the body. Some argue, however, that, “to walk a true Camino”, one has to carry one’s own backpack.
Isn’t schlepping across the Pyrenees and over some 500 miles through Spain enough to qualify?
And does it mean that I cannot ever aspire to become a true pilgrim if I simply journey in situ (and pick up clean clothes from the closet)?
Award-winning author and filmmaker Phil Cousineau writes that “with a deepening of focus, keen preparation, attention to the path…, and respect for the destination at hand, it is possible to transform even the most ordinary trip into a sacred journey, a pilgrimage.”
What these words tells me that it’s not what I carry that gives meaning to my path but my willingness to believe in the journey itself. Faith is the spiritual wheels attached to my inner baggage; it’s my luggage transfer service; it is the force that prompts me to sing with Maria, “I have confidence that spring will come again”, even as I hold on to my heavy gear.
This pilgrim’s faith is her confidence in the wisdom of her experience and in the promise of her growth.
The hills are alive with so much more than the sound of walking. They vibrate with the resolve in my steps and the quiet knowing that all will be well. Especially when I remain in place.
“It is not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” – Lou Holtz
Passport Stamp [PS] #2: Faith – Never leave (or stay) home without it.
Maryse Godet Copans © 2017