Time for another post-mass entry. After yesterday´s entry I went to the falafel place in hopes of seeing my New Jersey friend one last time, but I realized after the fact that we should have specified which falafel place because there are several in the old city. So she´s in Madrid getting ready to fly home, but at least I have her email.
That afternoon I did something more exhausting and discouraging than walking 50km with a pack twice as heavy as mine: I went shopping. All the pressure to buy, buy, buy nearly did me in and although I was pretty much successful in getting everything I wanted I still felt awful afterwards and had to eat an icecream and take a 90-minute nap to recover. After my nap I went to dinner with my Korean friend, who had a wonderful experience on the Camino (praise the Lord!) and was very excited and encouraging about God´s vision for Léon. I gave her my email, so hopefully we´ll be able to keep in touch, and we parted ways.
After that I listened to the tail end of a children´s violin recital in one of the plazas and then went up to the quiet of my room to read and write. Some of you may remember that last time I was here God gave me a good prayer for sojourners, and I felt called to write down some scattered thoughts I´ve been having since I got to Santiago, so think of this as a evening prayer and the other as a morning prayer.
Lord, you have brought me safe thus far;
please carry me forward again tomorrow.
Lord, you have fed me all I need today;
please provide for me to eat tomorrow.
Lord, you have given me abundant drink;
please open up new wells and springs tomorrow.
Lord, you have blessed me with breath;
breathe anew in me tomorrow.
And all I meet, Lord, let me greet
with the love of Jesus
on my lips, heart, and mind (and feet!)
so that the Kingdom of God
may come near to the pilgrims.
Now, Lord, with your blessing, I´ll sleep all I may,
and rest to gain strength to serve you all the day.
I expect those last two lines would be labelled as "sentimental" by my poetry professor, but he can deal with it.
Another subject that´s been on my mind without my choice is the reason for today´s title. You see, every large city I´ve passed through has had a groups of tents set up by protesters in front of the government building. In Santiago, the government building shares the square with the Cathedral, so I´m constantly seeing the evidence of upheaval and discontent with the current establishment. One sign (in English, which I found rather weird, but I suppose it´s for pilgrims to read) that was posted on a safety rail surrounding road work said, "Here they are changing a stone, there they are changing the world."
Now I´ll preface the rest of this entry by saying that I don´t really know very much at all about politics, much less the particular situation in Spain. But that sign got me thinking about a certain presidential campaign that was immensely popular at the time that used the same word, "change," to great effect. Obviously there´s something in the thought of change that creates a spark in the human psyche. There´s an awareness that things are not right with the world and a massive human effort to change because if things aren´t right at the moment, change must be good. Yet so often after the "change" occurs people find life is still hard, that nobody is perfect, and that the world is still not right.
There´s no arguing that walking the Camino changes every pilgrim. They return home different physically (I mean, look at my "beard" when I started!), mentally, and spiritually. Yet I´ve noticed differences in people who have finished. Some find a purpose or direction, some simply find self-contentment, but their behavior is what I notice. My New Jersey friend was a mother to all young people I saw her meet during our time together, and my Korean friend apparently began giving foot massages. On the other side, although my Nebraskan and Quebecan friends had a great experience, they had short fuses to deal wit hthe language barrier at the restaurant and admitted that they got "b****ier" the closer to Santiago they got.
Change is not enough. Jesus says in Mark 10:18, "No one is good exept God alone." Everything else is, at best, neutral in itself. But when God is in something, he makes it good. Thus, the pilgrim who submits to God´s will to be changed however he wants will receive the gift of a change for good from God. The change in my friends may be good in time, but they (and I) must first give the change up to God as an offering of praise and thanksgiving.
All right, that´s all the deep stuff for now. If you want to know what I´m up to while you´re all driving to work or sleeping in or doing whatever you do until lunchtime, I´ll be checking train and bus ticket prices so I can decide how best to get to Madrid on Saturday. I know that puts you on the edge of your seat, so I´m going to leave you with that cliffhanger. God bless!