“The whole journey of life is a journey of preparation... to see, to feel, to understand the beauty of what lies ahead, of the homeland towards which we walk.”

Pope Francis

As you read this latest post, I will be taking my first steps on the Camino. For those who don’t know, the Camino is a pilgrimage across parts of France and Spain that follows the supposed footsteps of St. James who went to the "ends of the earth" to share the Good News. It attracts disciples as well as avid hikers from all over the world. I am walking "the way" to the tomb of St. James in Santiago with some dear friends of Catholic Leadership Institute. It’s been on my bucket list for a while and was deferred a year due to COVID. You would think all of that extra time would have helped me with my preparation. I have been faithful to a lot of mental preparation: visualizing my walk, talking about my anxiety with others regularly, reading some blogs about paella, downloading the Babbel language app and paying for a subscription with the hopes to learn Spanish through divine intervention. The reality was that life was too full, and every week the trip drew closer, I was jamming in more and more things to get done so that I could walk in peace. Several people who were a little more prepared or who had done the trek had suggested I expand my preparatory practices and minimally buy some specific socks and boots. A few weeks ago I got myself to the high-end sporting goods store and surrendered my credit card to the expert hiker sales associate. As I told him bold-faced lies about how many miles I had been walking and my readiness, he pulled out several boots he thought would be right for me with features I didn’t know shoes could have. "You really want room to expand on your journey," he said profoundly. Was he a Christian? Did he too walk the way of St. James? "You mean spiritually," I asked as I tried on one of the boots. "No, I mean swelling," he responded wondering how quickly he could move on to another customer.

As I took out a second mortgage to pay for the boots he sold me, I couldn’t help but think about how unnecessarily full I was making my life - all the yesses I was giving in order to please others or tasks I was labeling as "must dos" before my trip. Not only was there no room for life’s natural swelling – a touch of COVID, a child’s sprained ankle, an unexpected work issue - but there was no space for why I wanted to go on the pilgrimage in the first place – to listen. How often in life and leadership do I overfill my journey with unimportant stuff for the wrong reasons? How often am I defaulting to listening only to my task list, my priorities, instead of the Lord’s? What would my walk look like if I created space for the Spirit to fill? Fearing the blisters, I decided to make some space for daily walks that would at least allow me to break in the overpriced boots. I didn’t bring music or my phone, just a rosary. I’m not sure it was enough to get me physically ready for what I’m about to do, but it was more productive than the paella research. Please pray for me and my fellow pilgrims as we make this journey. One of the traditions of the Camino is to carry the specific intentions of those who are dear to you. While I won't be able to respond, the team will make sure to get them to me and I would be honored to carry your intentions with me. I pray your walk this week is full of space for the Lord and devoid of any blisters!

by Daniel Cellucci

June 13, 2022

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