Every day is unknown territory
I’ve often thought it would be interesting to walk the pilgrimage trail Camino de Santiago in Spain, also called the Way of St James.
What attracts me is the physical challenge, the scenery, and the simple daily schedule. I imagine myself like a snail, slowly navigating ancient paths with basic needs in a light pack on my back. No cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, ironing, gardening, or cooking. Just one foot after the other for 800 km, which roughly calculates to 1,050,000 steps.
The word pilgrim comes from the Latin word peregrinus, which means foreign, the implication being that if one is a pilgrim one is travelling in a foreign country, wandering through unfamiliar territory. There is also the meaning of a person travelling to a holy place for penance or to seek a spiritual blessing.
Chances are I won’t get to walk the Camino de Santiago, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go on a pilgrimage. I’m walking a pilgrimage every day. I just don’t realise it.
Every day is a foreign country.
Every day is unknown territory.
Like someone on a pilgrimage in Spain, I don’t know what the next step, or hour, will bring.
Recently I woke up with what I thought was a normal day stretching ahead of me. I had no idea that we’d end up in the Emergency Department of our local hospital because Rob had a large piece of lemon rind stuck in his throat. He’d accidentally swallowed it in his early morning drink. It was still causing him pain in the mid-afternoon. It felt like a blockage in his gullet, close to his windpipe, so we got in the car and went for help.
Not all days have this sort of drama in them. Most days seem like familiar territory. We walk through them, taking one step after another, perhaps semi-bored and wishing we were elsewhere (like me dreaming about walking the Camino).
I could save up my pennies, board a plane, fly to Spain, don a backpack, and start walking. Although this appeals to the urge to travel that is always jumping up and down inside me like a restless whippet, I don’t need to go somewhere else to experience unknown territory and to receive a spiritual blessing.
I can wake up each morning, stretch my ageing limbs, get out of bed, look around me and feel excitement in the pit of my stomach for the adventure before me of travelling through this brand-new day, these 24 hours of unknown territory.
I may get tired, weary, and dusty today. Wonders may spring up around me. I may meet a stranger, taste something new, or observe a well-known vista in a new and surprising way. Perhaps unexpected or confronting events may happen.
I may notice a new bud on our Jazz Festival rose. I may find an old female kangaroo that’s died of natural causes on our bush track, and marvel at the decomposability of nature. I may be in time to see the first star appearing. And tonight, I may hear a mopoke call or the possum nimbly clawing its way up the ash tree outside our bedroom window, a baby on its back.
Each day showers me with spiritual challenges and blessings.
Each day is a pilgrimage through unknown territory.
I don’t need to go to Spain.
With love, Marlane