September 6 – Sept 15th
I wrestled with this blog more than all the others put together. I didn’t want to add to the political social media frenzy. I didn’t want to risk offending any of my diverse family and friends. Dan encouraged me to post it anyway because it is relevant to our Camino experience and so here it is.
With France, Switzerland, Italy, England, Canada and the US represented at our pilgrim dinner table, it felt like our own mini EU of sorts. Although Canada and the US have nothing to do with the EU, my point is, we were all very diverse, yet we came together and there was some sense of unity, (which is what the EU is suppose to be about).
Our coversation was a mix of different political and economic points of views,….only this political discussion was different. It didn’t have the uncomfortable tension build-up that I have grown to deplore. There were no slanderous insults disguised as rightous anger, spoken against candidates on the left, or on the right. These pilgrims were respectfully sharing and really listening to each other. This peaked my curiosity and I thought, maybe I can actually learn something here. I looked at Dan, he too was actively listening.
No one was interrupting or demeaning towards another’s view or trying to persuade, convince or prove another wrong. Unfortunately, this is everywhere and we have found the Camino is not immune. With the US elections right around the corner, and world events unfolding on social media as it is, political and economic crisis’s is at an all time hight and hitting close to home. People understandably are fearful, adding fuel to their emotionally charged viewpoints. Many are judgemental of not just thoughts, but also the individuals. Tell me, where is grace?
I admit that at times, when asked where I am from while on the Camino, my first reaction is to say Canada (and I am not the only one). For the first time in my life, I am cautious and even sometimes embarrassed to say the United States. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am being honest here. Don’t misunderstand, I am still patriotic, and I believe the US is the best place to live in the world (despite our flaws and infighting). Americans are not very popular in the rest of the world and I am careful not to throw caution to the wind.
I am embarrassed at times because words spoken (and posted on facebook) sometimes reflect the grace that is missing from so many hearts, as if they have no concenquences. The young pilgrim from Switzerland at our table said, “what we see and hear from todays leaders is only a reflection in the mirror of todays culture.” This is not just a US issue, this is the world’s issue.” I think he is right. This means we are all guilty, not just our leaders.
As the sunset, we all dispersed to get ready for our hike the next day. Dan and I paused breifly to enjoy the horizon aglow with the last orange rays disappearing with the fireball before us. We spoke about our experience at dinner.
How refreshing it was to hear educated, non threatening view points made by these pilgrims, concering a wide variety of world topics.
We felt ‘united in our diversity’ for the first time in a long time, which by the way is the original ‘moto’ of the EU.
So we pause to pray for our leaders. We pray they are given wisdom and divine guidance. We pray their hearts will be full of grace and mercy. We pray their words will be truthful and their actions full of integrity. We pray their greatest desire will be for ‘unity in diversity’ and for peace that passes all understanding.
We pray this for us and we pray this for you too.