In summer 2017 Cedar and I walked 120 miles of the Camino in Spain. My intention at age 77 was to learn from Upstairs what my mission should be for my remaining life. Arriving at the Cathedral in Santiago, I looked up expectantly. A voice in my head said, “Actually, it’s none of your business.” I pouted. “Okay,” it relented. “We can tell you something. You know those yellow arrows that guide pilgrims along the Camino. We put something similar inside every human being. Unfortunately, not everyone can see or follow them. You have been blessed since you can see and mainly follow them. Therefore it would be wrong for us to tell you how to proceed. You need to discover that for yourself.”
In Genesis 12, 1 God tells Abram to go to the land God will show him and that he will be blessed and in verse 4, “So Abram went….” Psalm 33:12b states, “…Happy the people [God] has chosen to be his own!” In Romans 4:13 Paul instructs that “the promise … did not come to Abraham … through the law but through … faith.” Finally, in Matthew 9:9 we read, “Jesus … saw a man called Matthew …, and he said …, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.” The parallelism in today’s readings is clear: God calls us individually. If graced with the ears to hear this call and the will to follow it, we’ll be blessed with happiness.
A Spanish saying goes, En caminando se hace el camino—"In walking you create the way.” A related Latin proverb advises Solvitur ambulando, “Things walk themselves out.” But my personal favorite is something Thoreau wrote in his essay “On Walking,” paraphrased here: When I go into the woods, it’s as if invisible lines of force draw my feet, and when I arrive, lo, it is the very place I was meant to be. My prayer for us all is thus that God bless us on our way so that on arriving at our promised land, we are duly fulfilled and content.
I feel blessed at 83 and a half to have completed four years, 144 weeks, of our national church’s Education for Ministry program. Thanks go to our mentors—David Plume, Anne Skamarock, and Pamela Clare—as well as to my fellow EfM pilgrims, with special mention of my dear co-graduate and fellow Jewish Christian, Amanda Schwartz. You are all awesome! Thanks also to my beloved life companion, Dr. Cedar Barstow. In her honor I’ll conclude with a prayer her dad wrote for her as an infant at the end of World War II:
“We thank Thee, O God, for the rest of our lives and the glory and promise of every new day. Be with us each as we go our own way. And may all that we think and we do and we say be expressions of love and right in Thy sight. Amen.”