Friday, March 19, 2010

Packing as if....

We're in the final approach to departure: mail withheld, newspapers suspended, shuttles ordered, bags -- well, bags almost packed. As I manage the last bit of stuff, I calculate the difference between this and the first leg of our pilgrimages: the trek to Santiago de Compostela.

First, we're not walking to El Salvador -- and that's a big difference. Most of my anxiety focused on whether in fact we actually could walk that far. The rest riveted on gear: did I have the right stuff? It was as if Spain were alien territory, and the people there had never heard of things I depended on daily.

Of course, they did. What I needed I could either buy or discover wasn't really that important after all. With no small embarrassment, I remember all the shrines I left in B&B's in the early part of the trip: gear I was leaving behind. I simply wasn't willing to carry it any longer. I wish I had taken pictures of all those altars.

This time, I'm traveling light: I know how little I need, and more stuff will only get in the way of being there.

Then, on the first trip, I needed an itinerary: where we would be and when. I plotted out the entire trek, adjusting for our poor feet, until I registered what seasoned Caminista Jan Ruud told me months ago: "You walk your own Camino." He was right. My passion for itineraries meant I wasn't walking my Camino; I was walking the one in the guidebook by John Brierley. It's a great book, but it covered his Camino. Not mine.

This time, I don't have an itinerary -- and opportunity abounds. Thanks to Kim Erno, director of the Lutheran Center in Mexico City, Phil Anderson, director of the Central American desk of the LWF, Cesar Acevedo, director of Augsburg's Central American wing of their Center for Global Education, and our incomparable hosts at Santa Clara University's Casa de la Solidaridad, Kevin and Trena Yonkers-Talz, we'll have plenty to do.

Though I couldn't have told you a year ago, this trip is about Romero, his witness, and his dedication to the people of El Salvador.

Finally, I'm packing as if -- I won't return. It's advice fellow traveler Kathy Gower passed on: "Pack as if you were never coming back." Of course, I have appointments scheduled and trips planned, classes to prepare and articles to write after our return on the 26th. The calendar is full of concerts, dinners, and dear, dear friends.

This time, though, I'm closing things down. I finished one article and submitted edits on another, both of which could have waited until my return. I read and graded a fine set of papers before leaving. All of those could have waited. And in a larger way, I find myself trying to leave behind as more peace and less clutter.

Not a bad way to travel -- even if you're not going anywhere.

1 comment:

  1. A pilgrimage to encounter Oscar Romero. Wow. May you find it all and more!
    Blessings on your journey.