Some seasons in life are hard. They just are. It feels like there is more weight to be lifted up on our backs. Weights of circumstances, trials, relationships gone awry. When there are many of these that one time converging like a perfect storm, we can wonder if we will make it with this much pressure. How can we make any progress under this weight?
Over the past several years, it has been on my mind that someday God would allow me, call me, to walk a pilgrimage. To walk a distance where he would teach me how to carry less. How to accept his yolk that is light. How to allow my weakness to be accepted so that his strength could be glorified.
After much preparation, I am on this long-ago-called-to pilgrimage. My son Scotty and I are on day 6 of walking the Camino de Santiago. A 500 miles journey beginning in St. Jean Pied de Port, France and ending in Santiago, Spain. The Way of St. James as some call it. We will carry what we need on our backs. My mochila (backpack) weighed 18 pounds at the pilgrims office in St. Jean.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus sends out his disciples and tells them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have 2 tunics.” Luke 9:3. He goes on to tell them how to accept and rely on the hospitality of others. Carry less than you think you need. I wonder what they thought of this. Why did Jesus say this?
Jesus knew they would see the goodness of the Father provide all that they need and in that, God would be glorified.
Our willingness to carry less gives way for generosity to happen. On the Camino, we have experienced this generosity among the pilgrims and among the people who live along the way. A pilgrim carries as little as possible in order to make the journey. People know this. And when they see it, the goodness of humanity shows up. A space has been created for kindness to happen. From shelter, to a meal, from clothing to caring for blistered and tired feet… kindness shows up.
When we are able to admit our fears of not having enough and are willing to carry less, God has space in our lives to step in and provide for all our needs.
It begs us to ask, what are we carrying that we don’t need to carry? What fears and burdens weigh us down? We are all pilgrims – sojounrers in this land. As we make our own pilgrimages through life, as we walk the distance before us, we will walk far if we carry less.