Letting Go: A Lesson from the Camino

Note: This is the full version of the article published in the December 2018 newsletter for American Pilgrims on the Camino (See “Letting Go” on page 7 of La Concha).

While there are many lessons that the Camino has provided, the greatest one for me has been to let go, both literally and figuratively. I am filled with gratitude for the lessons.

First, the literal letting go of stuff. After my first Camino, I had the urge to purge my closets. I realized that if I could survive with just a few items in a backpack, I really didn’t need all these clothes, some of which hadn’t been worn in years. I hadn’t noticed that I accumulated an embarrassing amount of stuff over 20 years of living in the same house. During the “Great Purge of 2016,”  I divvied up piles and offered them to my workmates, consignment shops and Goodwill. It felt good to know that someone can use stuff I didn’t need. The reward of having less made my choices easier. Whew! I vowed to not buy more and continue the purge on an ongoing basis.

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Happy Mother’s Day

I’ve been writing up a storm lately, and I really need to pack for my Camino, but I couldn’t resist a quick toast all the moms out there. For they have the most important job there is. Cheers to all the moms!

I’ve been playing with the Facebook Messenger Snap Chat thingy. Check out the birdies. My mom gave me the cross pendant for confirmation. I love the surprise effect of mama and baby bird!

In service today, Father Dan said something along these lines, “God is the father. . . Wait, scratch that, God is the mother. How many times do we hear ‘God is father’ in the gospel, but really, God is not a specific gender. What’s more, God’s love is unconditional, like a mother’s love for her child.”  Amen.

Fr. Dan also quoted a recent comic from The New Yorker. “The prodigal son returns to do his laundry.” Continue reading

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Santiago

I found God.

Well, maybe that is not so funny. However, it is what I least expected to get out of my experience on the Camino. So now here I am, two weeks away from being confirmed as a Catholic. How did that happen? Confirmation was never something I felt I needed. In fact, I resented the Catholic church most of my life, and I still have some issues with it.  If you recall from a previous post, My Rekindled Faith,  our family stopped going to church after my parents’ divorce. I completely lost trust in the church until my mom busted a myth that I held since childhood.

I will discuss what I’m doing for the Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) in another post. For now, I just want to reassure my blog readers that I did not join a cult and nobody persuaded me to be “saved.” I was not preached to by any pilgrims, and I will not preach to anyone else. I just followed my vibe and realized that now is the right time, and my local parish is the right place.  A year ago I would have never thought I would be blogging about God, but this is part of my Camino. Now I see that the Camino really does provide, in more ways than I ever imagined.

Entrance to the Santiago Cathedral through the Holy Doors

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Ideas for Lent that don’t include giving up chocolate

For the first time in my life, I plan to practice Lent. I decided to attend Ash Wednesday service at UC Berkeley’s Newman Hall tonight on my way home from work.  I figured I wouldn’t get weird stares all day about the smudge on my forehead. Why would I do this? To make a long story short, the Camino brought me closer to God, and I decided to be confirmed as a Catholic. I am going through all the ceremonial rites and attending the adult confirmation classes at my parish. You may recall from a previous post, that I was a bad Catholic through my first Communion and a skeptic thereafter. But events in the last year encouraged a change of heart. This has all been part of my “inner Camino” which I will write about in due time. For now, let’s get to some ideas to consider for the 40 days of Lent.

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My Rekindled Faith

When my mom and I were on our tour in Fátima, Portugal, I had to ask her about something that had bothered me since childhood. When she and my father got a divorce, our neighborhood church turned her away. I couldn’t understand this because my Mormon friends down the street had the support of the entire local Mormon congregation when their parents got a divorce. They brought over casseroles, babysat, and donated clothes and school supplies. By contrast, my mom, who had attended Catholic school and went to church every day, had nobody to help her. That’s the reason why I had resented the Catholic Church for most of my life. Continue reading