“Challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filled commitment.”
One of my plans in life is for my wife and me to bring each of our children on a pilgrimage when they get into high school. Just some special two-on-one time with each child. I had thought prior to his cancer that perhaps the Camino would be where we might take Peter. However, after the first day of walking, which was supposedly a "warm-up," I became a little worried I wouldn’t finish and a little sad that even though it’s almost a decade away, it may never be possible for my son given some potential long-term limitations. The Camino intention I was carrying for Peter was that his "life would be long and full" and a part of me already felt impatient with the Lord’s response. As we began the next day of walking - which was promised to be flatter - with three immediate inclines, I began my normal routine of jokes mixed with whining. No more than ten seconds after chastising my priest friend for lying to me about the terrain, our little group came upon a few Italian pilgrims in front of us. Two men were pushing and pulling a severely disabled girl up the hill in a wheelchair. My priest friend motioned ahead to the group and suggested I shut my trap, using more colorful English. Father and Andy from our group offered to help and the men gratefully accepted. I chose to leverage my unique talents and chatted it up with the family in Italian. They were from my grandmother’s town in Italy. I thanked them for their witness of faith and the father responded proudly, "My daughter will have a life that is full and full of God." As tears streamed down my face, I was glad for once I was in the back of the pack and wearing sunglasses.
As I said goodbye to Chiara and her family, I was amazed to think about how quickly I put limits not only on God’s power, but also on the potential He gives all of us. How do I understand what it means to experience "fullness of life?" Do I see limitations or challenges as detracting from God’s gift of life or as an opportunity to rely on Him and others more? Just because the trip takes me longer or feels harder, why do I not believe the Lord will still deliver me to where He calls me to go? As I took in all the little spots along the path, I began to imagine with great joy what Peter might say when we pass it together the next time, however we pass it the next time. As we experience this next week, let’s embrace our limitations as invitations to understand all that God has in store for us.