Hi friends, we’re taking a brief time out from posting to get caught up with some pressing matters here. We’ll be back on Wednesday. In the meantime, we thought we’d share with you this note from daughter Jess (“The Fumbletons”) about the journey she is setting out on. (And yes, for those who asked, this trek has our full support and approval.) We’d appreciate your prayers for her over the next few weeks whenever she comes to mind. Thanks so much! – The Erskine Family
“A journey of a thousand (or five hundred) miles begins with a single step.” -Lao Tzu
“I will walk 500 miles…”
So as most of you know, I’m heading off to Spain. I leave Monday 4/29/13 and will be gone for six weeks, returning 6/17/13. I’m endeavoring to walk a five hundred mile trail called the Camino de Santiago “the Way of St. James”. Starting from the Pyrenees mountains in France and walking to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. I’ll be carrying all I need with me on my back, and will stay in hostels and rely on the kindness of others along the Way. I’ll be traveling through farmland, villages, forests, mountains, and along highways (I mean, it’s 500 miles so I should be seeing a lot of different landscapes, right?)
The Camino has well over a thousand years worth of pilgrim footprints ingrained in its path, all heading to the same place where the bones of the apostle James are said to be buried- Santiago. The Camino was originally a religious, deeply Catholic journey, but now people with all kinds of different beliefs and backgrounds do it for many different reasons.
The reason I’m writing this is because I’ve had so many people ask me why I’m doing this “crazy thing”. Some people are baffled by it, some people are unhappy about it, and some people just don’t “get” it.
Well, it all started last June when I watched a movie on Netflix called “The Way” with Martin Sheen (cheesy- I know, and not completely accurate). After the movie was over I thought “How cool would that be to do?” but I didn’t seriously consider it. Yet it set a tiny spark in my heart that just wouldn’t go away. For a few months the Camino was constantly crossing my mind and distracting me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was working at Penn Station and the Capitol Arts Center at the time and had no “big” future plans. In fact, I was flailing around wondering where my life was going and what I was doing (which I will likely still be doing for a long time).
One thing you have to realize- I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life. I grew up on a farm with my family and I didn’t start really “making friends” until I started theatre at age 16. I’ve never been out of the country, never been on a plane, never been away from home (Kentucky) for more than 3 weeks at a time. I’m not saying I had a “hard time” growing up- I had a wonderful childhood. But it was also very isolated and lonely…
So I made the decision to go.
I did a lot of research, got my equipment, purchased my tickets, broke in my shoes (I even learned a bit of Spanish!) and planned everything I could in the span of 5 months. I even talked my friend Rose into going with me for the first two weeks!
So, my “reason” for doing the Camino?
It’s just something I have to do… it’s difficult to explain. But it’s been tugging at my heart for quite awhile and I know if I don’t pursue it, I’ll never forget it and I will never be content. I need to take a huge step out of my comfort zone. I need to experience a different culture, different people, a new language.
They say the Camino breaks you first physically, then mentally, then spiritually. Though it’s going to be tough- I need all those things. I need to feel the joy and freedom of the Camino. I also need to feel the pain it brings. I need to grow as a person. I need to live. It’s been laid on my heart and it’s just something I have to do.
I know it sounds “hippie”, crazy and off the wall, and that’s okay. It probably is all those things! But the fact is- I need this more than I can explain.
So when I take my first step out the door, I will be taking the first step of my pilgrimage. I’m heading off into a completely different world.
“It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
My heart is torn, one half for the Camino and the other for all the people I love here at home. I’m going to miss all of you more than you’ll know. It’s going to be a tough and amazing six weeks. Prayers are hugely welcome.
I love you all,
Jess peregrina (pilgrim)
“To laugh is to risk appearing a fool
To weep is to risk being called sentimental
to reach out to another is to risk involvement
to expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self
to place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss
to love is to risk not being loved in return
to live is to risk dying
to try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The people who risk nothing may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow or really live.
Chained by their servitude they are slaves who have forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is truly free.”
And lastly one of my favorites:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The yellow arrows mark the entire Way.