I just returned from 23 days of spiritual retreat walking the Via Podiensis (France) route of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. Normally, I’m leading a group of men as they walk the Camino, but this time, I walked for myself. It’s very different being a leader of a group versus walking for your own time of spiritual growth and reflection. When I’m in leader-mode, I’m thinking of risks, I’m thinking of each individual in the group and their health, I’m thinking of my leadership and how to disciple and walk people through their various stages of growth and formation. I have to worry about where the next water stop is, where we can stop to rest or stop for lunch, and whether or not I can find 15 available beds in tonight’s destination. But when I’m walking alone, all of those worries fall away and I can focus on what God is trying to say to me.
I did have one companion this time - my long-time friend, Thomas. We are a lot alike, and so we make easy walking companions. And we both had the same goal and agenda. Walk. No worries about logistics. Just walk and hear from God. And we did! We heard from God in laughter, in nature, in our times of talking to each other, and in times alone.
From Day One of this hike, I had been plagued with ear trouble. In the beginning, it was painful. After a few days, the pain was too much and I finally broke down and went to a small local hospital. They gave me antibiotics and drops for an ear infection and sent me on my way.
A few days later, with no relief from the ear infection, I went to another doctor in another small town. I now had TWO ear infections and was given different antibiotics and drops. Yet, the problem persisted. By this point, we were within a few days of the end and the pain was mostly gone. I couldn’t hear out of one ear at all, but at least it didn’t hurt anymore. After making it home (23 days later) and seeing my doctor and then being sent to the ENT, we finally figured out what was happening and I was finally given the correct diagnosis and prescription. Within one day, everything is wonderful. I can hear and my ear feels clear again.
The ear infection was actually a blessing to me. From the very first doctor, I had been prescribed drops that required me to lie down and keep the drops in my ear for at least 10 minutes, twice a day. This required me to be still. So I started using this time to listen (out of my good ear) to a daily devotional on my phone. I listen to Lectio 365, but I’m a sporadic listener, at best, mostly because I don’t take time to be still long enough to focus in and listen. However, during this Camino, I was forced to lie down twice a day and the devotionals are (surprise!) about 10-12 minutes long. Perfect!
After weeks of doing this twice a day, it is now a habit and something that I really enjoy. Now that my ear is well, I’m still listening to the devotionals each day - morning and night - and reflecting on what God has to say to me through these devotionals. They have truly been a blessing to me and been a practice that is helping usher me into different rhythms of rest and reflection.
I don’t wish an ear infection on you! But I do wish you times of stillness and new practices that help you listen to what God has to say to you.
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!