Safia, An 18 year-old Australian recent high school graduate, and I walked into a coffee house at the same time and shared a mid-morning break together. We shared some stories and one thing led to another, to which she asked for my thoughts on how she might choose a path in life. I said that whatever it was that she would do, it would be good if that activity called for the qualities that she so obviously had in such abundance: courage, openness and joy.
Then we were back on the Camino, each at our own pace, and as I watched her slowly pull away into her unknown, but likely bright future, I wished her well.
The Camino is thinning out now. For a bunch of reasons, likely, there are starting to be fewer people on the road. We are still a river–more a steam–of humanity coming through, playing our current part in the never-ending flow of centuries of pilgrims, but it gets down to a trickle now and then.
Anyway, as I was walking alone I thought about the four prayers for the Camino that I set out at the start.
I thought of that prayer about growing and nurturing virtues in many the parts of my life–personal, family, ‘ohana, community, ‘Oahu, the Islands, my nation, and the world. I think this is a turning point in history–we stop polluting at planet climate changing scale and stop being so weird about people who are different than us, and things get good. We don’t… we all go down, within a generation, two at the most.
And then it came to me… Growing virtues is so general. Really, what specific virtues do you want to grow?
Well, “Those qualities you saw in Safia, that were as plain as day, are perfect–they are the ones I’d like to have as closer friends: Courage, Openness and Joy!
And then for a couple hours as I walked I sang a song with a made-up tune with those three words as lyrics: courrrage, oooopenness and… jooooooye, over and over, my Camino Mantra for the day.
And later, that night, and every day since, I have see that song come true. I realized that these qualities ARE the Camino, not just for me, but for so many who walk these sacred paths.
I love it that I didn’t choose or grab for virtues that I wanted or that I thought I lacked, or wanted more of. I love it that the Camino, being those very things itself, chose to choose them for me. The Camino is courage, openness and joy.
Ask almost any pilgrim you meet along the way and they, with openness and evident joy shining through whatever foot and leg pain they may have, will tell you so.