I first learned about the Camino de Santiago my senior year of college and it was a dream of mine from that day on. I never knew how I could make it a reality, given the logistics of needing at least a month off work and the money to cover all the costs. So, the dream was shelved, filed away with all the other “one day…” plans.
In 2013, a local parish announced a pilgrimage along one of the routes of the Camino and continuing to Fatima. I jumped at the opportunity, partially thinking it would satisfy my desire to walk the Camino.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t.
My time along the Camino was a wonderful, fruitful, spiritual experience, yet I strongly desired to return almost as soon as I landed back home. I spent that winter researching all the possible routes and trying to come up with a plan to walk a longer path next time.
Despite all my research and planning and scheming, I just couldn’t make anything work. I ended up switching jobs – something I had desired to do for a while – but had no break in-between. I momentarily forgot about the Camino and threw myself into my new job and new community. It ended up being one of my favorite summers.
However, it was only a temporary job and in August I began to look for other opportunities starting that September. One by one, all of my options fell away, until one day, on a whim, I thought, “I wonder if I have enough frequent flyer miles to get to Spain.” A quick search showed I did indeed. I waffled for a bit, wondering if it was really that easy, and then I went for it and bought the ticket. Ten days later, I was in Spain again. And it was another beautiful, fruitful experience.
Sometimes, the Lord showers us with graces when we least expect them. Or when we’ve been longing for them for so long, we’ve almost given up.
Like so many others, I had lots of plans for the past couple of years that didn’t come to fruition. We have all experienced changes and loss during this time. Life in general is not without its trials and tribulations as well, but many things seem heightened in recent times.
For a pilgrim who just returned from the Holy Land, her pilgrimage offered a time of great solace during a time when she needed it most. She said, “I have experienced the most difficult year of my entire life this past year. This pilgrimage helped me to heal, forgive, let go and let God and move on stronger than ever in my trust in Jesus.”
Just as on my pilgrimage along the Camino, the Lord ministered to this pilgrim on her pilgrimage in an unexpected, but timely manner. Both of our experiences were orchestrated as part of His divine plan for our lives and walk with Him.
As Peter writes to the early Christians:
Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
-2 Peter 3:8-9
May we all learn from the patience of the Lord and trust in His divine will, that whatever our present circumstances, He will be with us through it all.