One literary critic has called the opening line of Genesis simply the best sentence ever composed. It is silly of me to start my Camino blog with that, but it's certainly not a line that I can improve on.
I booked my flight to Europe two days ago, so I have now made a major financial investment in my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. For the past few weeks I've been researching online, reading other pilgrim's accounts, gathering gear, and otherwise obsessing on this. In a sense, I have already begun my pilgrimage.
Why did I decide it would be a good thing to hike 500 miles across northern Spain in January? Where did this notion come from? The clarity which the title for this post provides is not matched by my own awareness.
What I have been aware of, for most of my life, is the feeling of being a misfit. When I began reading the Bible seriously as an adult, the phrase strangers and pilgrims on this earth resonated deeply. Throughout the Scriptures, we see that God cares for the poor, the marginalized, the homeless and crazy and desperate. My parents are very remarkable people, and they raised me in that spirit. I'm sure they've entertained angels unknowingly. This is more than just "rooting for the underdog." This is a vision which sees the face of Christ in every person.
So now I am about to leave a comfortable place and become a pilgrim. This is a matter of choice for me, but for six weeks at the beginning of 2010, I will become radically dependent on other people and the providence of God. I will be that hungry dirty smelly person tramping through your town. A cup of cold water in the name of Christ yields great rewards, but perhaps you could provide a cup of hot coffee instead.
More thoughts tomorrow on pilgrimage in general, and much more on the Camino de Santiago in particular will follow.