As I finally approached my destination, the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, I felt as filled with anticipation and excitement as a mother about to give birth. Before entering the cathedral, I felt the need to reach out to a few people to make amends. Jesus once told a man bringing an offering to leave it behind and go make things right with his brother. Maybe there’s a lesson there: we should make sure our relationships are in good standing before we ask for blessings for ourselves.
In keeping with Camino tradition, I brought a rock from home to leave in the Compostela. Leaving the rock symbolizes leaving behind your burdens and celebrating the freedom that comes from forgiveness. As I approached the Compostela, I was shocked by how commercialized it looked. It was loud and touristy, a sharp contrast from the peace I had so often felt during the pilgrimage. But the contrast reminded me that God lives in us. Not in buildings, but in our souls.
On the Camino, I felt God tugging at my heart the entire time, reminding me to trust in Him. I imagined that’s how Peter must have felt when God asked him, Do you love me? And, like Peter, I always responded, Of course I trust you, Father! But God wants to see physical actions as well as words. I need to truly live the practice of trusting God first. That was the Camino’s greatest lesson for me.
I brought three questions with me on my pilgrimage:
Am I supposed to become a full-time missionary?
Will I ever remarry or have a life partner?
God, would you consider giving me a glimpse of the next chapter of my life?
My first question was answered on the second day. I was on my bike when God said, Gracie, in my eyes, you’re already a full-time missionary. You help the poor, pray for the sick, and run a business which helps change lives. Continue to witness and to teach My word. I need you to be where you are.
My second question was answered about a week into my pilgrimage. Since I was traveling alone, I ate most meals by myself. I went to bed early and didn’t socialize. I spent the majority of my time in silence. I felt God ask me, How’s that solitude working out? I realized that I missed laughing. I missed companionship. I was thankful that my heart was not hardened enough to want solitude.
My third question was answered two days before the end of my journey. I felt God chuckle at me and say, Gracie, don’t worry about yesterday. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Focus on today. Be here. Be in the now. I felt God lift my anxiety away in a single breath. I kept repeating: Be here, be in the now.
For many years, I was lost. I allowed others to determine my direction instead of following the arrows God had set out for me. My pilgrimage changed me from the inside out. I am committed to paying attention to the arrows in my path, and to helping others along the Camino of life.