This morning I rode my bike virtually over the finish line of my 480 mile Camino. I started on September 2, taking 256 days to complete the 480 miles. Roughly, I walked 325 of the miles, yoga’d 16 miles, swam 20, and biked the last 100+ miles.
I also read at least 10 books and watched one movie about the Camino, re-reading the first one (The Way is Made By Walking) again as I approached the finish line.
During that same time period, I participated in an online Bible Study Fellowship group, studying the Gospel of Matthew and read through A Long Obedience once or twice.
Lastly, the same time period covered Johnny’s academic year, two semesters that were challenging emotionally with many ups and downs, as well as illness and dental issues. It was, to say the least, a very rough year. Somehow he completed 13 credit hours with two As and 2 Bs, plus a “Satisfactory” designation in an Observation Course. That last one included many hours working with the Penguin Players, a theater production for adults with special needs.
In January, I also started attending Re:Generation, a recovery group at Wheaton Bible Church. At 68, I feel too old for this, but decided to work at my part in this unbalanced equation of over-helping and codependency. I began by calling myself a “weary mom” and gradually accepted the label of codependent. I am still in the Groundwork phase, but will start a Step study in June. The jury is still out on whether this is a helpful exercise, but I am committed to the process, for now.
I started the Camino hoping to continue my daily habit of walking outdoors and also make it a spiritual pilgrimage in some unclear way. My feet betrayed me over the fall and winter as plantar fasciitis worsened. I visited podiatrists, bought new shoes and insoles, and tried physical therapy. Next up might be cortisone shots, but I haven’t decided yet. In the meantime, I rented an e-bike and continued my journey with the help of wheels and pedal assist. (Now, new aches and pains are showing up from a different sort of physical activity. Am I too old for this too?)
Spiritually, I learned to depend on God a little more intentionally, but I’m not really “there” yet. In one of the videos we watched at Re:Gen, the speaker used a bench press to illustrate his point. He added big heavy weights that represented his addictions and sins. I didn’t expect him to be able to lift it at all, but he laid back and lifted it once, twice, three times before he started slowing down and then struggled, tiring under the weight. It was a perfect picture of me: I CAN and DO lift a lot of weight, particularly in my helping roles, but I get worn out and weary pretty quickly. Fortunately for the weight lifter, someone spotted him and took the weights from him. I am learning to more quickly ask God to take those weights, even asking BEFORE I pick them up the first time if this is what He wants for me. (Not always, I still rush in to fix and calm more often than not.)
As I end this journey, I think I’ve accepted that life and spirituality are challenges that will continue to the very end, that it may never get easier, but that I am not meant to do it alone or in my own strength/power. Changing my routines and even pedal assist is okay. I also can/should depend on God and others to ease my way. A huge theme of all the Camino books I read was that the community of pilgrims walking the same path was the best part of the experience.
So, I’ve joined a Team for my next virtual challenge, the North Coast 500, a 500 mile journey through the Scottish Highlands. Six of us (so far) will walk, bike, row (or whatever) our miles and add up the miles together rather than separately. Two of us are cancer patients, one had a stroke this winter, all of us are on the old side of things but we are still moving, still journeying. Four of us are also classmates from 46 years ago. Our class verse given to us by the preceding class is just perfect, even (or especially) for this stage of life:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings as eagles;
They shall run and not be weary;
And they shall walk and not faint. –Isaiah 40:31
P.S. I got to take a long ride this morning with Laura, who is training for a Sprint Triathlon in June. I never would have been able to keep up with her without pedal assist! Loved it even more.