And All Shall Be Well: Little Camino, Day One

I continue to be intrigued by the idea of “little Caminos” occurring daily in my life. As my book on the Camino prepares to walk out into the world this week on its first Zoom launch, I’ve decided to “walk” on my blog, exploring how the wisdom of that Camino keeps revealing itself. My thought was to do this for 34 days, the length of my Camino journey, not posting every day, but maybe every week. Walk with me? 

Little Camino: Day One –about three miles. 

It was through a subdivision and then through a path in shoulder high grass. The day was hot for Alaska, the view across Kachemak Bay, hazy with smoke from a far-away forest fire. I walked with a long-time friend, glad to be meeting in person again after two plus years, separated by the pandemic. We walked to ease the questions that have been plaguing us all day. What will it mean now that Roe v. Wade has been repealed? 

Many are rejoicing that the lives of unborn babies will be saved. Others are grieving the loss of a woman’s right to make an informed choice with a medical professional. The issue has split the nation yet again. As my friend and I walked together that day, we wondered that there was no assurance in this ruling that a woman’s mental and physical health will be protected. We wondered why it is just that four men( two accused of sexual abuse) and one woman decide what it best for women, when the majority of the country feels otherwise. 

We walked on in silence.  

“How do we go forward from this? How will this work out in the long run? said my friend. Not knowing, yet again. A long pause hung between us as we walked through the grass.

”Well, we made it through the Civil War,” she said. “I guess we will make it through this. Although it was pretty damn traumatic and a lot of people died.”

I shuddered, sensing it will be traumatic and it is traumatic now for so many. We are already “up in arms” about it with our neighbors, friends and families throughout the country. I walk on in silence, wondering and mourning for us all. How do I hold all this?

I sigh and am reminded once again of one of the primary lessons of my Camino walk. Basic trust. It is the stance that no matter what– the Universe is benevolent. You will be okay. Or as Saint Julian of Norwich maintained as she lived through the Black Plague 600 years ago, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”  It’s wrenching, bordering on impossible, to trust this.

I know I need to take a breath. Pause. And go slowly. “Mama said there’d be days like this,” goes the song by Van Morrison. I’m not angry. I’m not resigned. I’m not helpless. I am stirred. I am yearning. I am resolved. I am in a place of not knowing. And I am waiting.

Oh the waiting. Practicing trust. Not knowing. All challenges of the Camino. As I write this, I remember another experience of waiting and not knowing. A shaky step into possibility.

It took place just up the coast from where I was walking with my friend that day in Homer at Captain Cook State Park near Nikiski. I waking early as summer light seemed to bloom over the hill behind me. I made a simple breakfast in the small VW camper that wrapped its arms around me. I was away from children, husband, work and house. The just me-ness of it made me almost giddy. 

I walked over to the high bluff that overlooked Cook Inlet, letting my eyes skip across the water to the snowy volcanoes on the other side.

I stood still and felt as big as the ocean, watching, and waiting. A story from a friend drifted into my thoughts. She was a friend I thought was interesting and fun but “a little out there.” When she took an African safari the month before, she said she had  “called the elephants to her.”  Standing in the back of the truck she was riding in, she recounted how she opened her heart and invited them to join her. Just as her tour group was leaving the park, a herd of elephants appeared from the bush and ran toward the Land Rover, astounding everyone, including the guide. I was a bit skeptical, but obviously the story had intrigued me. It was with me now.

Just for fun, I decided to call for something wild to appear to me that morning on the bluff. I opened my heart, or at least my version of what this woman had done, asking for something to appear like it did for her–mostly just for fun, but a part of me, hoped.

As I waited there on the bluff, the breeze whooshed up from below. Then felt a rush of wind close by, a flapping sound, and then a pregnant quiet and the presence of something very close. I turned my head ever so slowly to the right, my eyes leading, until I saw a bald eagle sitting on a broken stump beside me three feet away. It was as if the eagle was saying, “You called?” It looked at me as I looked at it, me taking in those golden intense eyes that never wavered from my face.  I was barely breathing, as still as stone. Without warning, it soared off the cliff and caught the updraft. I watched it lift and rise and swoop by me.  I didn’t move for many minutes, having never known that particular kind of joy, that singular sense of intimacy, and that wild connection.

Perhaps this is the time to call something wild to me and wait, trusting whatever it is, it will come–some wild new way of knowing and being and loving in the midst of my confusion and sadness. Trusting there is a new, particular, and incomprehensible joy here even now.  A trust that no matter how it looks to me right now, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and in every matter of thing, all shall be well.” 

I keep walking.

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