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Sabbaticalogue Wk. 11 – Making Every Mile Count

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Today I completed Day 19 of my trek across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. 328 miles down, 172 miles to go. 

Now, more of my journey is behind me than before me. Sounds kind of like my life. 

Thomas Merton once wrote, “The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey.”

If that’s true, I’m doing a lot of acting out. Some days the walk goes well. I sing. I pray. I meditate on Scripture. I reflect on the miles behind me, and I anticipate the miles before me. 

But then there are days, like yesterday. If you’ve ever watched the movie, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” you might remember that Wolverine’s girlfriend had a superpower where she could control people’s minds simply by touching them. Near the end of the movie, she’s lying on the ground near death, and she grabs the ankle of the evil character, Major Stryker. She tells him to walk until he can walk no more, and with a hypnotized look, he turns and takes his first step. He reappears before the film ends with his shoes worn, clothes tattered, and face twisted in pain. 

That was me yesterday. 

And then to top it off, I stayed in a small town that, unbeknownst to me, was planning an all-night festival, and the stage for the live band faced our hostel. They started playing at dusk and were still playing when I left at 5 am. Lesson learned. Pay attention to the culture in which you’re walking.

Just like in life, some days are good and some days you wish you would’ve stayed in bed. The key is—don’t give up. I’ve talked to others on the Camino who’ve said, “I didn’t realize how long and hard this was going to be.” Actually, I’m the one who’s said that...more than once.

In “The Last Arrow,” Erwin McManus writes, “More often than not, the journey to where God wants to take us requires that we travel further than we ever expected....  But if you simply gave up because the journey was longer and harder than you expected, then you have become a settler when you should still be a pioneer. The unfortunate reality is that many of us would choose our comfort rather than our destiny, would choose safety over opportunity, would rather settle for less than sacrifice now.”

You may be having a hard walk right now. If so, then keep acting out your inner journey. Don’t settle. Don’t quit. Don’t give in. For many of us, we have fewer miles ahead of us than behind us, so let’s make every mile count.

 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians6:9, ESV). 

Buen Camino

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Sabbaticalogue Wk. 10 – “Sole” Care is Just as Important as “Soul” Care

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“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Right? I sure hope so.

I’m writing this sabbatical update from an “albergue” (hostel) in Boadilla del Camino, Spain, about 437 km from Santiago de Compostella. Don’t ask me to put that in miles right now. My brain hurts. But not as much as my feet.

One of the many lessons I’ve learned as I have now finished Day 12 of walking the Camino is that “sole” care is just as important as “soul” care.

Here’s where my problem began. I’m a cheapskate. I bought my hiking shoes on clearance, even though they were a half size too small. I got a good deal, or so I thought. I believed my shoes would expand as I wore them in, but I didn’t take into consideration that feet would also expand with heat. 

Long story short, my shoes are now donated to the “gods” of the Camino, as I left them as an offering somewhere around Lorca, Spain. I helped the Spanish economy in a slight way, as I purchased new trail shoes that have gradually been fixing my feet with the healing power of podiatrist therapy.

Yesterday I met Remi from Paris. He told me to pronounce his name like, “Jeremy,” without the “Je.” Remi has walked the Camino seven times. He should get a medal. Or a Nobel Peace Prize. 

Anyway, Remi, who wants to become a Benedictine monk, told me I’m walking the Camino all wrong. I told Remi that I’ve run a number of half-marathons and even a marathon, and so I thought this would be a piece of cake. He said some things in French that I’m not sure were very polite, but then he said, “No! Walking 800 kilometers requires skill and technique just like any sport.” He commenced to show me how to use walking sticks (which I thought were just for kids and old ladies), and how to adjust my backpack if I’m going uphill versus downhill. He showed me how to improve my gait, and the way I land on my feet to reduce the pounding on the soles of my feet. He didn’t just tell me, he showed me. I mean, literally, he got up in the little cafe where we were sitting and began to demonstrate. In a cafe in downtown Indianapolis, that might have been a bit odd, but not in Boadilla, Spain, where most of the people sitting around us were other “pilgrims” intently listening in to our conversation and taking notes. You probably know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Many of us at one point probably thought, The Christian life? You bet. Give your life to Jesus, and the Christian Walk is no problem. But not too far down the road we realize that “sole” care is just as important as “soul” care. 

What do I mean? I mean that taking care of your body, mind, and emotions has a direct impact on how you take care of your soul. In other words, Jesus is not only concerned about you getting to heaven but how you walk—how you live your life here on earth. We are to “walk in a manner worthy of our calling” (Ephesians 4:1). “Look carefully then how you walk” (Ephesians 5:15). “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely” (Proverbs 10:9).

If I don’t take care of the soles of my feet, this Camino experience in not very refreshing for my soul. Hmm. Sounds a lot like life. Stay connected with others, like Remi, who can help guide you to a better Walk. Keep your feet—and the rest of you—healthy. You will find the miles pass easier, and you will have a much greater appreciation for the beautiful scenery all around you.

Buen Camino.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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