Everyone who walks the Camino does so for a different reason, but many walk hoping to find something they’ve lost. It can be a lost relationship by death or divorce, economic fortunes, personal health, or a number of other things that they once had. Walking in unknown territory is soothing, like we might stumble upon the item and be overjoyed with its return.
In Luke we hear that Jesus leaves 99 sheep to look for one who is lost, we rejoice when the wayward prodigal son is embraced and returned as a part of the family again, and we are overjoyed when the despised tax collector, Zacchaeus is changed when he is found by Jesus.
My Camino walk in 2019 started with 60 years of memories of lost loves, lost opportunities, times of poor health, and unexplained events. As I walked in the quietness of the forests and the fields, a lifetime of twists and turns played out in a constant stream. I tried to drown it out with repetitive prayers or “to-do” lists, but the memories kept creeping back in.
But why had I come on this journey with people I didn’t know, to walk the last 100km into Santiago and earn my Compostela?
On our longest day, I trudged through forests and fields, determined to make it the full 17.9 miles. By the 11th mile, my memories had faded and I focused on the stones beneath my feet. I was transported from the noisy past into the quiet present. It was unsettling. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to the familiar place where past failures and losses dominated my thinking, or if I wanted to go forward searching for the light at the end of the trek.
Not knowing which to choose, I kept walking. Childhood prayers started floating in as well as Scripture verses I didn’t realize I knew.
John 7:38 came into my thoughts, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
At the 16th mile, I realized I was empowered to be not just a mirror of my memories, but living waters to others. I no longer had to grieve over lost things. I had been found by Jesus.
On the last day of the camino, I marched triumphantly into Santiago leaving my old life behind. I was ready to embrace my new life as a “light of the world” confident that Jesus called me, “friend.”
May you experience the joy of being found by the Son of Man on the Camino as well.