Fear, Vulnerability, and Breaking Through To The Other Side
There is an old Buddist parable of a mustard seed. In the parable, a woman loses her only son. Overcome with grief, she begs the Buddha to mend her wounded heart. The Buddha agrees under the condition that she bring him a single mustard seed from the home of a family who has never known sorrow. The woman visits every house throughout her village yet is unable to obtain even one mustard seed. Every family she visits shares a tale of grief and suffering. Ultimately, the woman realizes that all of us experience sorrow, and that what we learn from our own sorrow is how to open our hearts to the sorrow of others.
Many people embark on the 500-mile Camino de Santiago to reflect on their sorrows, learn from their heartache, make peace with the past, heal and move forward. Long hikes and extended periods of solitude certainly provide the context for such deep reflection and healing. But so does the spirit of fellowship and solidarity that exists on the Camino. Every time I listen to the woes of a fellow pilgrim, I find my own sense of empathy deepening. Their story is my story: we’re all in this together.
Segueing to a somewhat related topic, I walked to the “Cruz the Ferro” yesterday. At 1,500 meters (or about 4500 feet), this iconic structure (meaning iron cross), is the highest point on the Camino. According to tradition, pilgrims are to leave behind a rock from their home country. This is meant to symbolize the “leaving behind” of worries, frustrations and sorrows. Even though such a tradition may seem a bit idealistic, it got me thinking about my own shortcomings–those aspects of myself that keep me from being fully authentic: fear of inadequacy, a need for rigidity and structure, perfectionism, judgment of myself and of others, pride, fear. FEAR.
So on that very windy mountaintop, standing on all the rocks placed there by the tens of thousands of pilgrims who came before me, I made a commitment to embrace vulnerabilty, to allow room for mistakes, to learn to forgive myself, and to fully realize my worth.
I have a lot of work to do…but I’m getting there. Nice and easy…
Peace, hugs and buen Camino,
Day 1: St. Jean, France to Roncesvalles, Spain, 27 km
Day 2: Roncesvalles to Larrasoaña, 27 km.
Day 3: Larrasoaña to Zuriguiqui, 27 km.
Day 4: Zuriguiqui to Lorca, 28 km.
Day 5: Lorca to Los Arcos, 30 k.
Day 6: Los Arcos to Logroño, 30 km.
Day 7: Logroño to Najera, 30 km.
Day 8: Najera to Redecilla del Camino, 31 km.
Day 9: Redecilla del Camino to San Juan de Ortega, 36 km.
Day 10: San Juan de Ortega to Burgos, 26 km.
Day 11: Burgos to Hontana, 30 km.
Day 12: Hontanas to Boadilla del Camino, 29 km.
Day 13: Boadilla del Camino to Carrion de los Condes, 25 km.
Day 14: Carrion de los Condes to Sahagun, 40 km.
Day 15: Sahagun to Mansilla de las Mulas, 37 km.
Day 16: Mansilla de las Mulas to Leon, 18 km.
Day 17: Leon to Hospital de Orbigo, 32 km.
Day 18: Hospital de Orbigo to Rabanal del Camino, 36.5 km.
Day 19: Rabanal del Camino to Ponferrada, 32.5 km.
Day 20: Ponferrada to Trabadelo, 35 km.