(Keeping my pledge to write thirty-four posts on how walking the Camino continues to impact my life, the same number as the days I walked this pilgrimage)
I’m in Hawaii, listening the waves hit the shore just below the condo. Seven days into this trip, the ocean has shushed away my little anxieties, bringing me the whispers of whale songs, the steadiness of its presence, and the reverence for all the holy it holds. I often use the ocean as a metaphor for my relationship with the holy: I am a wave in the ocean, distinct from other waves, but never separate from the ocean itself. I have a deep reverence for ocean–its power to create and destroy, its tranquility and ferocity, its life-giving and life-taking, its watery depth and breadth and vast evocative mystery. What indeed lies beneath? That thrill and awe of not knowing the ocean, not knowing the vastness of God is like a magnetic pull. I want to know while I do not want to know.
I was often in the paradox of wanting to know and not knowing as I walked the Camino de Santiago. On one hand I knew how to trust and to walk Meister Eckhart’s Wayless Way, believing the way forward would simply be revealed. That was often countered by a complete loss of trust and a deep wanting to know that I would be okay, that I would find a place to sleep, that my body would keep working and that I could finish the journey. Unlike this moment by the ocean, my ego anxieties were chattering, analyzing, justifying, organizing, planning to keep holding the reins of my experience. Yet as soon as the journey ended in the plaza in front of the cathedral in Santiago, I wondered why I had worried at all.
It is a long walk home to living in trust, not knowing, never really knowing what will unfold in each day. We all know at some level, we could die. It’s not likely, but the oncoming car could cross the line or the heart could stop or…. Being here in Hawaii with the sun shining, the aquamarine water crashing, the hibiscus showing off their riotous colors and the banyan trees spreading their quiet protection, I could forget. And yet the ambulance sirens scream down the street at night, and then I think, I know I do not know the hour or the day.
I started this blog not knowing what to write about. That’s how the title of this post emerged–not knowing. “Just write,” I said to myself, “and something will come up.” In a way, I am that vast ocean. Inside of me, there are depths I’ve not explored. I never really know what my fingers will create when I begin to write, what words will come, what my soul wants to say. It surprises me that I came to writing of my own mortality today. I realize that it might come from the loss of four of my beloveds during the pandemic, and my own cancer surgery. The ocean is bringing up these vulnerable places for me to metabolize here is this healing place. Yet I’m not being morbid. It’s natural to grieve. It’s just looking at the reality of my body dying. My individual wave absorbed into the ocean again. Yet I will still be—in a form that I cannot yet know. Again, not knowing.
Being willing to not know is a great freedom. A great freedom from the frantic ego. It keeps me in this moment, fingers typing away, waves crashing outside my window, sensing my heart beating, my friends’ voices as they talk and laugh, the smell of toast from the kitchen.
I do not know what this day will bring. My Little Camino is to rest in the luxury and wisdom of this way of living, trusting that no matter what does come, all shall be well.