SPAIN, Johannes Frick (Germany) •
Every journey starts with the first step. “I’ll walk the Camino!” – as simple as it sounds it is way more than that… I knew that I had to do it my way. This meant to start at the Schoenstatt Shrine in Heroldstatt in which shadow I spent so much time growing up; summer camps with the Boys’ Youth, weekend activities… The shrine that links Pater Kentenich to our family as Heroldstatt is the home town of my maternal grandparents. Leaving this shrine that’s where I began. —
I started and I learned. Sometimes we learn quick and sometimes very slow, the Camino and God can be very patient and direct… With every step I learned to let go, let go of weight in all forms, weight that others put on my shoulders, let go of thoughts, let go of the past, let go of planning ahead, let go of my biggest fears…
Sometimes we do need a lesson: One Morning in Switzerland I was walking down a wooden ramp my thoughts on Santiago, thinking that if rain holds off and I can walk 20 km before noon then I could walk another 20 km in the afternoon and in three days I could be… right! Right in this moment I slipped, fell on the ramp and looking up I see a sign “slippery when wet!”. It happened on the last five centimeters on the ramp! Really! God?! – Obviously there is no need to argue with God about five centimeters. I was down! – It really where only five centimeters… For me this was a painful reminder to live in the present, to live in this moment. Not in the past, not in the future, NOW! Now in this minute present in body and spirit.
From the beginning, my plan was to walk over the Pyrenees and take the northern way. However, once I arrived in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the rout over the mountains was closed, it had become winter. It took me days to let go of my plan. Then, first I accepted to take the valley route to Roncesvalles and then I gave up on making my way from Pamplona to Irun. I was stuck! Three days of continuous snow. Walking off the well signed path to make it on uncharted trails through mountains, on routs far from civilization up north – insane! Especially, as I wasn’t prepared for freezing temperatures and without any camping equipment. I finally surrendered to his way… By following him my Camino changed and became our way. A way of charity, a way of Jesus with me, and us with you. Pilgrims became friends and friends became pilgrims. Good Samaritans more than once lent me a helping hand and I in return.
As my senses sharpened for his presence, his signs, his will, something changed… unnoticed at first. Today I would say it was a little seed one that started to grow and turned into a flower. As it flourished it became an unshakable force inside me – Trust! Trust in God in ways I never imagined or felt before!
When I arrived in Santiago after 2763 km in front of the Cathedral, there wasn’t that big emotional moment. There was that thought of “That is it!?” Is it that? And the realization that nothing changed, that I needed time to arrive, time to process… and it became clear! Santiago is and never has been the end, it always has and ever will be a Milestone of a new beginning. Therefore I want to encourage you to “Walk by faith and not by sight!” 2 Cor 5:7 and to start your Camino today!
Ultreia! Et suseia. Deus adiuvanos.
Let’s go further! Let’s go higher! With God’s help!