The Way is made by walking. La Rioja, Spain. 14 May 2014
“Wanderer, there is no way. The way is made by walking.”
I find these words, a translation of a line from Spanish poet Antonio Machado’s “Caminante no hay Camino,” both frightening and comforting.
On the Camino we didn’t really “make the way by walking.” We walked an established, usually clearly marked, often paved path. We had a clear destination (Santiago de Compostella) and plenty of maps, and if we got lost there were muchas people to ask for directions. If we got tired or stranded, we could take a bus, a taxi, or a train to a town closer to our goal or even all the way to Santiago if necessary.
Out here in the “real world,” however, I find that “making the way by walking” is totally helpful and completely how things work. When I wait for certainty before trying something, I will wait and wait. “Making the way by walking” gives me a way to tolerate the ambiguity of not knowing how something will turn out before I start. Making the way by walking helps me to take the first step that I AM fairly certain about, then the next one, and then the next one after that. I think I know where I’m going, but it’s entirely possible that I will end up somewhere completely different than I intended when I began.
The Camino taught me to trust my heart, and that the Way was there for the finding when I took the first step in trust.
We’re all on a journey, whether we know it, admit it, and accept it, or not. Here’s my prayer for pilgrims and wanderers, walkers and wayfarers.
You’re the God of a wandering pilgrim people – Adam and Eve, Jacob, Abraham and Sarah, Moses and the Israelites in the desert, Babylonian exiles, Jonah and Elijah, Ruth and Naomi, Mary and Joseph, Peter and Paul and Thecla – all wanderers. All pilgrims on holy journeys.
We bear the name of a wandering itinerant preacher, a man who began wandering in the womb, whose first act of intentional ministry was to flee to the desert for forty days, who referred to himself as “the Way.”
Help me to remember that the Way is made by walking. That any certainty I may have about an outcome is both illusion and delusion. That my job is simply to take the first step. Then the next one. And then the one after that.
Help me to remember that to reach new places I must follow new roads. That faithfulness to your invitation to grow requires change. That when I respond to your call to be who I am in You, to live my life in You, I will be taken to places I do not expect. That true rest will only be found in Divine Upwelling You, and that the only stability I will ever know is floating in the River of You – always moving and growing and changing. And that all actions and choices that I make faithfully are good, despite appearances to the contrary.
Help me to trust that I have all I need for this journey.
Help me to commit whole-heartedly to this road, and always to be thankful for its gifts – each moment, each breath, each step.
(This is the second of a series of blogs reflecting on my 37-day walk along the Camino de Santiago from May 6 to June 11, 2014. You can find the first post here, and my husband’s blog here.)