Follow Joe as he hikes the Camino, experiences World Youth Day in Madrid, and travels to spiritual points in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and beyond.
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Happy Birthday, Madre!
Today is my mom’s birthday, but because I’m away on pilgrimage and the time difference, I probably won’t be able to phone her so I had wanted to send her some kind of greeting via this blog.
I have found myself thinking of both her and my dad a lot recently, mostly due to a string of medical “procedures” my dad has had to undergo. I won’t go into details but they’re the sort of thing that result in him moving around a little slower when all is said and done – feet and back related mostly.
The other day before leaving for this trip, I was riding my bike around New York city and I was struck suddenly with a memory of him from about 20 years or so ago when he had gotten very into cycling himself. He would ride for miles and miles everyday and often mom would go with him. They’d always invite me to, and though I’d occasionally go with them, typically I’d stay at home thinking it wasn’t all that cool, or even that fun, to be seen riding bikes around town with your parents on an early Sunday morning.
As I looked up from my own ride on the glorious bike trail that is the New York City west side path, with gorgeous boats and the Hudson river to one side and the splendor and craze of the city itself on the other, I thought to myself how incredibly much my dad and mom would enjoy this ride, and then I became sad. Because bike riding just isn’t really in the cards for dad anymore, he’s just a little too old for it. And mom too. And not only can they not easily come join me for a loop or two around Manhattan, but I realized I had wasted so many moments back in the day when I could have easily enjoyed rides with the two of them around town.
Yesterday, on the bus from Madrid, a similar sentiment came to mind. My parents absolutely love churches, and used to love walking so much. The Camino / Way of St. James would have been the perfect walk for them to have taken together.
So even though I had intended this to be a short post with a pretty picture like the one above from Portomarin, where we began our Camino pilgrimage this morning, and a quick birthday greeting, it is now actually more of a dedication of sorts.
As I begin the walk today, The Way, I plan on walking it for my parents who are not here. I am walking it for them both. For my dad who can no longer get around as easily as he used to, and for my mom (who also may have trouble with the 15-20km a day.) I am walking the Way for the two people in my life who have so often showed me the (right) way, and who originally so long ago first walked me over to church, opening up a world to me that I still continue to discover everyday.
Once again, happy birthday, mom. I’ll try to bring you back some kind of gift in September slightly better than a rambling blog post, and I will pray for you and dad when we reach Santiago de Compostela.