MEET FR. MIKE
I’d like to use this space to help you get to know your new associate (me) a bit. Because I've been given a modest-size space, I’m going to share something much closer to a trailer than a director’s cut.
The pilgrimage was a wonderful experience full of breathtaking scenery, tasty food, and new friends. But when I was finished with the pilgrimage, looking west across the ocean at Fisterra (Land’s End), I had no idea that the pilgrimage was not finished with me. It yielded up its greatest gifts to me retrospectively over the following months and years, and I want to share just a couple of those gifts with you today.
One gift was the powerful experience of making my way across a country the size of Spain one human step at a time. I look back, astonished that I attempted the journey and even more astonished that I completed it successfully all without the use of even a bicycle. What I can do seems so modest; everything I am capable of is proportioned to the “Fr. Mike-sized” pace of about three and a half feet. That normal human pace, done consistently and mostly in the same direction, carried me across Spain in a month. When I look at the current tasks set before me - and there are so many daunting ones - I remember my experience of the Camino and how my modest abilities, exercised consistently, were enough to finish an extraordinary journey.
Another gift was the experience of the path. My instinct and my training is to want to know everything and to have everything planned out prior to any undertaking. But that was not my experience of the Camino. While on the path, you can perhaps see to the next crest or to the next curve but no farther. There are signs, a scallop shell or yellow arrow painted on a rock or set into the cobbles of the street to guide the pilgrim, and that is enough to set a direction and take the next steps. Even from the tops of mountains, and there are a few of those on the path, you can only see so far. I now understand this as a metaphor for life. I have never met anyone to whom God showed their whole path. But God always shows us at least the next few steps. Until we take those steps, we can’t see what’s next, what’s over the hill, or around the curve. But when we take each step, we see what’s next; we see the next segment of the path.
The Camino has become for me a beautiful lived metaphor of how we are meant to walk with God and how he leads us bit by bit on the extraordinary journey of life. I hope this little introduction gives you a sense of who I am. I look forward over the coming months and years to getting to know you better as well. When we meet, please share a little bit of who you are as well! May God bless you.