For a while now I have been aware of heart shapes all around me. The very first person I ever met who had actually walked the Camino, told me that her path in Spain was covered with hearts, she even became know for this - the girl who who was surrounded by heart shapes wherever she went. (By clicking here you can read one of my older posts about this wonderful encounter.) I am, by the way, truly grateful that my sister introduced me to this dear friend of hers, her enthusiasm about her pilgrimage is what fuelled my passion for this adventure way back then.
Do we hone our senses, I wondered at times, because feathers and heart shapes, especially heart shaped stones have just appeared on my path on a daily basis. Or, are the lights simply switched on once you open your own heart to the Lord? These things are symbolic for me and act as reminders of where my focus in life should be. Were they always there and I just never noticed, or did I notice but as it had no specific meaning for me, I just always dismissed it?
One thing I do know for sure though, is that God speaks to me every day, every moment, of my life. I have learnt how to open my heart. I have learnt how to fill my heart until it's so full that I feel it spilling over in a smile on my face - as it is right now!
And you know what they say about smiling and laughing - not only does it uplift your mood, it also helps you to live longer! If you don't believe me - read what the experts say here. :)
Proverbs 15:13 says: " A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit."
In verse 15 it says: " All the days of the oppressed are miserable, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast."
I've made a conscious decision to base my life on the teachings of the Bible and as I continue on this path that I've embarked on, I discover that the answer to every single question that I have about life, is to be found in the pages of this God-given guidebook.
I've been told by numerous people to arm myself with John Brierley's guidebook when embarking on my pilgrimage to Santiago. From a practical point, I think I'll do myself a favour by doing that and I am so glad that so many people are so open and willing when it comes to sharing their Camino tips and experiences. The thing I'm even more grateful for, is that here and now, in my everyday life, I find myself surrounded by people who have recommended the Bible as the greatest, most precious guidebook I could invest in. Not only do they share their experiences, they offer guidance, advice and support. They explain the things I don't understand and patiently answer my one trillion questions.
As I've said umpteen times, my road to Santiago started months ago.
This new season of my life has equipped me beyond expectation. Starting this blog about my dream has brought people into my life who are going to be there for years to come and I am no longer amazed or astounded by the connections that are born out of these pages. I simply smile. Because I know who sent them.
There are many traditions on the Camino de Santiago. One tradition dictates that you take a stone from home and place it at the foot of the Cruz de Ferro, situated about 200km's before Santiago. As thousands of pilgrims have done this for many, many years, it seems as if there is a small mountain at the base of this cross by now. I've only ever seen pictures of it but I plan to take my little heart shaped stone - the smallest one on the picture above, along with me to Spain. It is going to find a home on that man made mountain and I will be placing it there in celebration of the fact that my heart truly belongs to the Lord!
Today I found this verse in Matthew (23:37):
Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
I know I must have heard it or read it before in my life, but I feel as if I'm really hearing it now.
Sylvia Nilsen, probably one of the best informed people in South Africa regarding the Camino de Santiago, writes in a magazine article that I came across:
'The Lord is not found in a specific place - He lives in the heart of every believer, but doing a pilgrimage can connect you to God in a special way'
I say again - I can't wait to get on that plane to Spain!