'Hear my cry, o God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against my foe.
I long to dwell in your tent for ever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you have heard my vows, O God;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.'
This is the Psalm that was given to me when I was in a state of panic on Kilimanjaro last year. I was sitting in a tiny little tent with my companion, the wind was howling and the air we were breathing was thin and ice cold. When you know what still lies ahead of you and that the air is going to get even thinner, panic can easily take control of your mind.
When this happened to me I knew that alone I would never be able to conquer that mountain. I closed my eyes and pleaded with God to send me a message. A message of hope, a message of encouragement, anything, I just needed to know that He was there with me - weak human being that I am!
I opened my little Bible and the Psalm above, one that I had never, ever read before that day, jumped out at me. I could not have asked for a clearer, more loving, reassuring message! I truly and firmly believe that God hears every single request that we send up - we only have to believe that He will answer! I also know that our time isn't God's time. So to receive an answer just like that, in a situation where I really needed it desperately, is a blessing indeed! Some of the things we ask for might only be answered when we've given up hope - but that's how God works and who are we to demand answers/solutions/suggestions anyway!
So this is why I can't understand how and where atheists draw their strength from when needed. I am always amazed when I hear atheists profess almost proudly that they don't believe in God. I don't get it. What has amazed me even more is the comment I read on a camino forum recently written by a person who said he was a believer when he started walking the camino but that by the time he reached Santiago, he no longer believed there was a God.
I must add that that was the only such statement I have discovered so far. There are more accounts of the opposite taking place - thank goodness!
Tony Kevin writes: 'Now, as Santiago was finally approaching, I felt that my heart was cleansed and refreshed and open to God as it was ever likely to be in this life on earth, and I was happy.'
If I ever had a wish for myself, it would be that at the end of my camino, I can say the same, word for word!
When I started writing this blog I said to myself, this is the start of my camino. Today it is 182 days since I posted for the first time. In these 182 days I feel that I have truly embarked on a blessed journey. Blessed in the fact that God has brought people into my life who are adding real value in so many ways to the person I am, to the person that I am becoming! We share an interest and a love for this very special pilgrimage and I'm discovering that the gift of the camino is one that seems to continue giving!
Right now there are three people walking in Spain that I have come to know since I've started blogging and I eagerly wait for their news every day! Anna-Marie, for example, writes the most informative and interesting blog on the Camino - she has been walking for about a week now (not her first time on the camino either!), her updates can be found by clicking here. Do drop her a line!
As for my own pilgrimage - this time I received the message before the actual journey - or is the reality that I'm much more in tune with what God has to say to me at this stage of my life? He's given me Psalm 91. Clearly, plainly, undoubtedly. I know that I'll be walking with Him and that I'll be safe. Every step of the way. I have little feathers raining down on my path, almost every day. I know they've always been there, I just haven't always seen them.