Merriam-Webster defines "camino" as path, road, journey, way.
The past few years I have found myself drawn to the experiences of those who have walked the Camino de Santiago through northern Spain. As much as part of me wants to embark on this sacred pilgrimage route that ends at the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago, traveling this mileage on foot with a backpack strapped to me seems a bit beyond reach for me at this time in my life (never say never I have been told). Although a long, arduous journey like the Camino de Santiago may be beyond our capacity due to life's circumstances, I believe that many of us walk our own version of the Camino in our daily lives without being fully aware of the journey metaphor and the spiritual lessons available to us.
As the snow has cleared in my wooded sanctuary, I have returned to early morning walks. I pray the day's lectionary from the Book of Common Prayer, read a few pages from books I am working through, do a bit of writing, and then take to the woods for God to speak to me in the silence of nature and God's own created order. Toward the end, as I become winded with the many small hills and turns of this 20-30 minute walk, I cannot imagine doing this for 5-8 hours a day for five weeks through the Spanish countryside. I have taken to calling my morning walks my own version of "Camino." I am, indeed, on the journey walking a path every morning wondering of God's wisdom for me in that day. It is a rich time of prayer.
As I continue to settle into this new home of eight months, prepare for increased programming through AWBA and the pace it requires of me, and recall the myriad of life-changing events of the past six years that have brought me to this place on my journey, the Camino metaphor takes hold. I can feel the physical weight of a backpack strapped to my shoulders and the exhaustion in my legs traveling on unpredictable terrain. I experience the isolation of realizing that sometimes I am on the journey in seeming solitude. I continually look for signs to ensure I am still on the path, and look ahead wondering where the path leads and where, when and how it will end.
I imagine that some of you can relate to this sense of pilgrimage. There are physical, emotional and spiritual pilgrimages that we are invited to explore --
~ you have lived an active life and begin to experience physical changes that hinder the ability to walk across the room;
~ you experience so many life changes coming rapid fire that sadness or depression enter in and the "light at the end of the tunnel" seems too far away to provide hope for an abundant future;
~ your image of a loving God seems pretty far-fetched given life's circumstances and the idea of "losing faith" seems to be the reality with no human voice to share a different version of the story;
~ and the list goes on …
If this discussion stirs something in you, here are a few written and visual resources about the Camino de Santiago that you may want to check out. As you google through these few links, you will find an abundance of other options if these few do not connect with you.
Walk in a Relaxed Manner - Lessons from the Camino by Joyce Rupp
The Way, movie with Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen
Camino de Santiago Documentary Film - The Way (YouTube)
An Internet-based curriculum is beginning to write itself around the ideas of personal journeys and Camino-like roads that we travel. If you would be interested in something like this, would you please let me know of your general interest by sending a brief email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we get a few nibbles on this subject, I will move forward to develop this idea for a late summer/early fall offering.
Blessings on your journey. May the Holy One give you courage to continue when the way is long, friends to accompany you on the way, and a sense of humor to keep your backpack light.
Friday, March 13, 2015
As AWBA has grown into itself and learned how God is guiding this ministry, we have chosen to revise our mission statement to more clearly describe who we are, and what we provide.
Our new mission statement reads,
A collective of spiritual directors, artists and others who provide soul care to people with a chronic diagnosis and those who support them.
Our vision statement is unchanged and reads,
Through in-person gatherings and Internet-based programming, AWBA is a vital resource of spiritual care for those impacted personally and/or professionally by a chronic diagnosis. Our programming is personal, creative, relevant, nonjudgmental, and accessible to anyone regardless of their beliefs, where they live, and their ability to leave home.
We have had increasing opportunity in recent months to interact with individuals and groups new to AWBA. In those exchanges we have learned (1) some people connect better with the phrase "soul care" than with "spiritual care", and (2) some assume our focus is on therapy and counseling within support group settings.
As we look at the programming that has been most successful, it is often facilitated by spiritual directors, professional artists, expressive artists and others who support our desire for programming that is personal, creative, relevant, nonjudgmental and accessible. We believed it helpful to better identify those who facilitate our programs. We chose to use the word "collective" to indicate our strong desire to be in collaboration and partnership with others who desire to make a difference in this way. There is power and synergy growing in the AWBA community. We believe focusing on the strength of a collective will ensure that we continue to discover quality facilitators for our programs.
We will be revising our website with this information to include brief bios and pictures of those who are part of the AWBA collective because of the programs that they facilitate through AWBA or with whom we are collaborating for a specific event. This information will be updated regularly so that you can always learn more about those who are facilitating an event that you may be interested in or who may be present as a support to the facilitator.
We will continue to grow and learn so these statements may change again. Thank you for being on this journey with us.