It is on.
The past four months have brought me to a personal and spiritual challenge. There are days where I feel a deep sense of peace, where reflection and a pause to life’s hectic schedule has been provided to me. Then there are days where frustration, confusion, and a deep sense of powerlessness overtake me. Days where there are too many questions to ask and not enough answers are provided. Moments where I observe the world and individuals whose actions make me ask, “where did we go wrong?” Where did a sense of helping others get lost in selfish foolishness. Mixed messages that individuals who claim they are righteous and living a life of faithfulness are instead evidence by deep felt sense of anger and resentment where personal wants are greater than community needs. The past four months have provided me a test. A test that I have spent days and hours reflecting on and trying to understand what is next in my life. Where should I go and how can I know that when this ends, I have changed to become a better, more enlightened person?
This past week, I turned 52 years old. I am in the initial years of the second half of my life. I feel that at 52 years, I have a keen sense of where I came from and what my life in its earliest years has provided to me. I have grown a great deal and matured into what I feel into a person who is deeply reflective, tremendously loyal, and eternally curious. I guess you can say, I really do like who I have become at 52 years. There is more to develop.
This brief post on my blog is a commitment. A commitment to do something that during these four months I have done a great deal of contemplating and questioning. I will commit to lead myself to a spiritual quest. A project that will be part of my new scholar identity. A study that will hopefully address an issue that is an area of concern in my professional life. An opportunity for others, especially those close to me, to join me and to support what I truly believe will be a life-changing adventure that celebrate the healing of our world and mark the next phase of my career and life. This commitment has been in me for more than 10 years and now is the time to act on it and to develop a framework to complete it.
I plan to walk The Camino de Santiago by 2024-2025. During this four to five year period, I will prepare myself for this journey. I will grow my spiritual identity by studying further Benedictine teachings and reading more on what it means to live a spiritual life. I will develop research and frameworks based on these studies to apply in higher education leadership and higher education student affairs administration, addressing what it means to have a “calling” to work in an educational and service-related profession. I will use what I learn from my scholarly work to understand the identity of being a “pilgrim” – someone who embarks on a quest. For me, the intersections of my personal, spiritual, and scholar self will culminate into my quest to walk The Camino.
At this time, I do not know which route I will walk, but I do know that I want to walk. Today, I do know for certain that I want to walk with the goal to receive a Compostela, a certificate signifying that you walk the last 100km of The Way to the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. Knowing that my journey will include such a feat of endurance, sacrifice, and wonder will culminate this journey.
As you can see in the image above, I have started my initial education on walking The Way. Starting with the basics, such as travelogues and advice and tips books, I will increase my learning on The Way by reading memoirs and eventually history accounts on The Way. As part of my understanding of the pilgrimage, I hope to develop what I am calling a “mini-sabbatical” for summer 2021. As the world hopefully heals, I am planning to spend reflective and meditative time at St. Meinrad’s Archabbey in southern Indiana. I have already inquired on a retreat discussing St. Benedict’s The Rule and hope to spend a week, possibly two, writing and studying spiritual texts. Ideally, I would love to develop a research study possibly conversing with any of the monks regarding spirituality through work, which is the motto of Benedictine monks – ora et labora.
Lastly, I have joined a private Facebook group where pilgrims who have walked The Way, who plan to return to walk again, and those who plan to walk soon, converse and share advice and tips. There is also a group where pilgrims meet in-person to create community and to provide guides and support (spiritual and personal). At this time, these groups cannot meet but I do hope to join the Houston chapter of this group soon.
This is my commitment. I will walk The Way within the next four to five years. I hope to fulfill this commitment and to make this an experience that marks my maturing life. I foresee this to be a pivotal journey, one that cannot be rushed. Thus, my four to five year plan is akin to what I see as another “degree” – an education that cannot be gained from any university or college. I will learn through my own readings, my deep critical thinking, and most importantly, messages that I will receive in various forms – nature, human observations, friendships, selfless acts, and most importantly, callings. Where these come from and when they will occur, I cannot predict. I can only know that when they arrive, I should appreciate them and accept them as ingredients for this journey – my project.
I see this also as an open invitation. The Way is not meant to be a journey of solitude. In fact, one of the things I look forward to when I act on this commitment is the opportunity to meet other pilgrims and walkers from around the world. The Way is a communal experience.
Join me. Physically or spiritually. The next four to five years will be a good experience. The world will be in a much better place knowing that we all are reaching towards this spiritual quest once it has (hopefully) healed.