Sitting in my assigned seat on a plane at Glasgow Airport. I’m a bit overwhelmed, time has ticked by quickly. 17 days ago we walked into Santiago.
Just like that the final destination of a 42 day journey had been reached. I Guess the journey started years before. Many years before.
I remember back when I was very young and God answering my prayers. As a kid those were mountains being moved. As a young man I changed a bit. My frustration with the leaders of organized religion began and they continued until I was all but consumed.
It was the kind of frustration that I could not ignore, like a splinter sticking out of the skin just enough that it catches on every little thing. You are compelled to pull it.
In my early days of training to become a Chaplain someone pointed out that frustration is low grade anger. Was I angry with the leaders of organized religion? You bet I was.
I was angry enough to continue studying. I would find the right answers. I finished a Doctorate of Ministry fueled by the desire to make things right. I used to believe that I was gonna change stuff. Then the realization came.
I’m not changing anything. I am the one who has been changed. Camino means The Way. The priest at the Pilgrims Mass at the end, pointed out that Christ is The Way. The poor Mandalorian has been convinced that the Way is War. The Christian knows that the Way is Christ and the command of Christ is to love people and to war against powers, principalities, rulers of darkness and the high places of spiritual wickedness.
I am neither Protestant nor Catholic. I am a Christian. I will worship Christ in every church building. I will pray with all those who pray. I will not get into arguments with the religious leaders who want to argue and debate. Life is too short for that and there is too much to do.
One thing that happened on the Camino was a change towards the “religious leaders.” On one post that I made on Facebook another Army Chaplain that I worked with (he may even be retired) began to belittle the Camino, the Catholic Church and then he got personal attacking me. He was trying to pick a fight -arguing for the sake of arguing hoping that his understanding of Scripture is better. I was tempted to engage. I started to. But then it occurred to me. So what? Not my problem.
So what if he thinks that I am going to hell. So what if he cannot see the love of Christ within me. So what if he lacks compassion and decides to use my post to spout his beliefs. So what?
He is not my problem to fix. It is not my responsibility to change his mind. I don’t need to worry that he is using my page to go off. (Actually the whole Facebook belongs to someone else).
He presented a distraction and as evidence of a change that has occurred with me I did nothing. His remarks are nuts and what is so cool about them is that I changed. The old me would have needed to argue or delete his remarks, maybe even delete him as a friend. But God has again answered my prayers, just like when I was a young child.
Mountains have moved. Had you known me well before the Camino de Santiago then you would be thinking now, “Wow, Matt has changed.” I guess one way to sum it up is that I no longer need to be right. Christ is right enough and I will just focus my energies on the talents and gifts with which He has entrusted me.
I have a responsibility before God to create art (specially in the area of oil painting), to make a Joyful noise (even though some of my music is dark, there is joy there in), and to run Vet Church. The art is easy. The oil paintings sell themselves thanks to Gods blessing me with these colorblind eyes. The joyful noise is easy because God has sent so many great artist into my life and they have helped me with the craft. Vet Church is also easy.
Vet Church is easy because it is Gods Church. I Don’t need to do growth management. The mission from the start has been simple and it still is. (Mission Statement alert:)—To share the love and hope of Christ. Nothing else to it. No curriculum, theology, new twist of dogma, just sharing the love and hope of Christ. While I’m at the helm the main method of delivery will be some artistic move that it has been mainly playing music and talking. Bars, coffee shops, music festivals will continue to be the main venues.
The way God works is unexplainable. It’s magical, mysterious, mystical. It is beyond words.
On the Camino de Santiago things would happen- like we found a place to stay easily and I would turn to Terry and say, “Camino Magic.” Some of my fondest memories of Camino Magic were finding a coffee shop at just those moments when our feet were screaming for us to stop and there right around the corner was a small bar. Rest, Coffee, Orange juice and Croissant time! YES!
I am aware of a couple of other prayers that God has answered from this Camino but the constant angst that I felt towards the religious leaders has been the main one lifted. It’s funny in a way. I have been freed to allow the religious leaders of our time to go on worship however they must. They may even insult me and gnash against me. They may hate me. And all of a sudden Christ has stepped in and restored me to the simplicity of my youth. I’m focused on Christ not what someone else says about Christ.
I dropped some fat from my waistline and I dropped some pounds. I am stronger physically and I am also stronger spiritually. I have laid some burdens down, some have simply been take from me and I have been strengthened to bear that which I must bear.
I feel like a new man. I feel empowered. It is as if the vows of my ordination have been renewed.
I think that the Camino began when I met Christ as a kid. Years later as a Medically Retired Veteran I saw the movie The Way. I thought I would like to do that and lay some of my burdens down.
Well God knew- long before I did. God knows for all of us. We are all in this together. We have been commanded to care for one another, to look out for one another, to go the extra mile, to love. We have been on a Camino since day one.