“Habla usted inglés?”
Today’s Reflection from Father Dave
“Habla usted inglés?” “Si” came the response. “Great! I would like to send some things home to the United States.” I was in Pamplona, the third day of my pilgrimage; I had overpacked. After climbing over the Pyrenees and realizing I carried items I really did not need, with a month of walking and 450 miles to go, I would send things home. The postal clerk asked if I was a pilgrim going to Santiago. (Perhaps the disheveled look and backpack gave me away?) She told me simply to send it ahead to Santiago. It would be much cheaper, and then I would have another reason to reach my destination.
I had packed items “in case of,” or “I might need this,” and all those items added to my burden. During this time of shelter in place many of my duties are curtailed, and I find myself cleaning closets, bookshelves, cupboards. It is amazing what one finds and what one has kept “in case of” or because “I might need it,” but now goes into the trash or recycling bin. When I finish there is a feeling of great accomplishment (okay little victories impress me at this time), but no one to show it to, so I am writing to get some applause and acknowledgement.
It is not just physical items that weigh me down, but it is so many other worries and concerns. This Lent, more than any other I can remember, has made me pause and reflect on what I carry around. My older brother reminds me that I pack the pack; I determine what I am going to carry. The airport security even asks that question as I wander through the checkpoints, “Did you pack this bag?”
As one would have a favorite Station of the Cross, mine would be the fifth station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross. I mentioned in an earlier reflection that one must carry one’s own backpack. In this station Jesus carries His own cross, but He does experience the help of another. He understands what it means to take some of the weight from a person who is struggling. Do you not think that during this time of uncertainty, chaos, and anxiety, the yoke we feel is made easier by the Lord’s hand, if only we believe in that promise?
When that postal clerk took my belongings, packed them in a box, labeled it, put the correct postage on it, and placed it in a bin, she did more than just ease the weight on my shoulders. She gave me encouragement to make this walking pilgrimage to my destination.
She was someone who showed me Faith, Hope, and Love in action.
Your Wandering Padre,