I’ve had the privilege of traveling all over the world, and I’m leaving for a short trip again this week. Wherever I go, I take a couple things with me to eat, usually some trail mix and these Sunbelt Chocolate Chip granola bars.
Maybe it’s the “bakery-fresh taste,” but I find that there is nothing better in my backpack. You never know when you may need a snack and sometimes nothing is available, or even worse, sometimes only pressed seaweed is available. At those times, granola bars come in handy.
Add in a Coke (which can be found anywhere in the world) and I’m good to go. At least until dinner.
My favorite photo from our 2017 Camino de Santiago journey. Sometimes it’s not clear where we are headed, but pilgrims trust that the trail ahead will lead to the good things of the Lord.
(Thank you Beth Longtine for the amazing pic!)
I took this photo on the Camino de Santiago and immediately thought of the words Jesus spoke, recorded in Matthew 7:13&14:
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Or, as The Message version of the Bible puts it:
Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.
The way to God is vigorous and requires total attention. That challenges me, as the words of Jesus always do. Where might we be following broad, easy paths when we should turn off on the narrow road? In a world where easygoing formulas exist at every hand, our thoughtful attention to the right path requires more of us than ever.
Walking the trail
One step followed by another. Crunching along the gravel trail as the morning mists dissipate. Moisture dripping from trees. Mounds of acorns and hazelnuts lining the trail. Cafe con leche in a trailside restaurant. Shadowing dairy cattle as they move from their milking barns to the fields. Sore knees. Blisters. Trailside shrines to lost loved ones. Fellow pilgrims from all over the world. Pilgrims walking to forget. Pilgrims walking to remember. Pilgrims walking and hoping to connect with God. Pilgrims walking in hopes there is a God. Pilgrims walking who don’t believe in God, but who are drawn to this place for some mysterious reason that they cannot put a finger on. Maybe it’s God?
There’s simply no place like the Camino de Santiago. I believe it’s a “thin place,” a spot in the world where the eternal is somehow present in an authentic sense to our temporal hearts. We will go back – maybe you should consider joining us next year!
This week Dawn and I and several friends are walking the ancient pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago, or “the way of Saint James.” We’re following signs like the one pictured to the right and enjoying the beauty of northern Spain as we walk the 70 miles to the cathedral in Santiago.
Pilgrims have been following this trail for over 1,000 years. It’s a “thin place” where the spiritual world and the temporal world are somehow closer together. We are excited to make this walk again.
Maybe next year some of you will join us?
New York City skyline April 2017
I’m flying today, on 9/11, headed to Orlando for Cru leadership meetings*. Since the attacks on New York City on September 11, 2001, I’ve flown several times on this day. It’s always a little eerie and everyone at the airport always seems a bit more serious.
I’m reminded of the many victims from that day. If you would, take a minute and pray with me for their families and friends as they relive a day that is burned in their memories. Pray also for our world, that we could somehow avoid another day such as that one.
* Due to Hurricane Irma, I’m no longer going to Orlando. But my thoughts about 9/11 remain the same.
On the passion facade of La Sagrada Familia, the magnificent cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, you’ll spot this odd grid of numbers. Designed and placed here by the cathedral’s architect, Antoni Gaudi, this is known as a “magic square.”
Why is this so special? Try adding the numbers in any direction and discover the sum (the bottom number on the right is 15 – apologies for my photography). Then, think about what significance that sum has in a cathedral dedicated to the glory of God.
Gaudi used a variety of imagery, light and shapes to draw the visitor’s attention and devotion to God when they walked through his cathedral. In my mind, this square represents a clever way to catch your attention and entice you to give thought to the image of the invisible God.
Still stumped? Shoot me a note and I’ll fill you in on the secret.
Utensil rack in Beijing cafeteria
As a Westerner who needs a knife, fork and spoon (and sometimes fingers) to get food from my plate to my face, I appreciate the dexterity and simplicity of eating with chopsticks. It’s impressive. However, the above dining utensil option of chopsticks and only chopsticks, means that I’m looking at a long, slow meal, and most likely noodles in my lap.
We were recently in New York City as Dawn and I visited our son, Matt, who is working at Fordham University. One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Ellis Island, where loads of immigrants to the US first landed and were processed before moving around the country. A small island in New York’s harbor, right next to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island is a must-see for anyone visiting New York. Many Americans trace their ancestors arrival into the country back to Ellis Island. It’s an inspirational place to sit and realize the promise that America held to those making the difficult passage from Europe and ponder the hope that continues to drive immigrants today.
The Statue of Liberty from Ellis Island