Last week I read a blog snippet of a man who walked the Camino del Santiago in Spain as a pilgrimage. It is something I hope to do someday and I'm always intrigued by reading how others become more attuned to themselves and God along the way.
In this post [click HERE for original] , David Fulton talks about how he got blisters - even though he prepared for the journey, had a steady pace, invested in good socks, broke in his boots and everything. Then it hit him. He had come on the journey to slow down and even with all his meticulous preparations, he still got gnarly, painful blisters and was pushing through them to accomplish the journey. The question became, would he heed his body's signal for rest?
In retrospect he ponders: "Isn't is fascinating how disconnected we are from ourselves?" And I, even I who am particularly intentional about living attuned to myself and my soul and spur others to do/be the same, say, "Yes, dammit!"
What strikes me, is that even when he had intentionally pulled away from his "normal" life and prepared to slow down and get in touch with himself, he struggled to heed the signs of his body. And then struggled with what his ego wanted for the journey and what the rest of him (body and soul) wanted. A battle of voices I know all too well - one in which my ego is about as effective at listening as a demanding child is mid-tantrum.
As David heeded his body's call for rest - and took a bus to the next city - he also realized this:
The funny thing is, that is also what I needed internally–to pause to take inventory of my loneliness and grief, and offer kind care to those broken parts that were left so long ago. - [Again - See more at: http://asacredjourney.net/2013/10/pir-david-fulton-2/#sthash.RlO4LW9D.dpuf]My heart resounds with his shared narrative and self-reflections - really they reveal my similar longing to want to offer care and kindness to my body and soul - and not just because I'm in the "business" of doing the same for others as a Spiritual Director. I want to offer such kindness and care because I am a beloved human who is desperate need of the "good news" of redemption of all my parts. Denying them or pushing through the pain by sheer grit and determination never really lets me see the ways God might want to grace me with His care and kindnesses.
My ego wants to overcome and be victorious and show others how strong (accomplished, competent, amazing, ______ fill in the blanks with whatever adjective is your favorite) I am. My body and soul are often saying, "I don't care about looking competent...I just want to be at peace (or rest, integrated, well, settled, in sync _______etc.)
I don't want to wait for the Camino to learn to head what my body and soul are trying to say to me. Whether I am able to walk the Camino some day, or not, I want to listen better with kindness and care to the lonliness of my soul and the achiness of my achilles. These current conditions of my brokenness are an invitation to kindly offer care to myself...as David Fulton suggests, it is a way I offer the "good news" of the gospel to the hurting, voiceless and perhaps a little bit lost, parts of myself.
I wonder too how we will ever learn to listen to one another if we cannot listen to our own bodies and souls. That, perhaps, is for another post at another time. The best listeners I know are, indeed, ones who are attentive to themselves with gentleness and hospitality.