Camino de Santiago 16

Jul 15th, 2012 | By | Category: Travel Adventures
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As I travel across the Spanish countryside I am constantly reminded about faith and religion. There are crosses everywhere.

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I did not grow up in a religious family. My mother claims I went to Sunday school when I was six, but I don’t remember one bit of that.

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My father was raised in a religious home. Big Ma, my great grandmother who lived to be 105, was the Reverend Mother Elizabeth Powell and she had her own church in Youngstown, Ohio. I think every black family in America has a big mama (and she was tiny), and a nana. I think black families tend to be matriarchal. A few years back, before big ma passed away, I took a picture of my Great grandmother (big ma), grandmother (nana), mother (Gloria), sister (Robyn), and niece (Denali). Five generations of women ready to take on whatever the world throws their way.

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Our family version of organized religion happened on special holidays. We’d all be sitting around the table waiting to dig into my mom’s amazing cooking and my dad would read a passage from the bible or say a prayer, while Tchaikovsky played in the background.

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Prayer my dad use to say will be added here when my brother sends it to me ;-)

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There are many reasons why people walk the Camino. There is the religious history and connection to St. James (The Way of St. James). But there are also spiritual, family, personal, physical, and adventure reasons to do it too. Everyone has a story of why they are here, now, at this moment in their lives.

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I have always considered myself to be spiritual. I find myself resonating more with eastern philosophy and spiritual lifestyles instead of organized western religions.

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As I travel the world I am fascinated, even drawn to, the monuments humans have created for religious and spiritual reasons. Temples, pyramids, cathedrals, I love them all. I love seeing and touching these complex structures of wood and stone that have lasted centuries.

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When I walk into a cathedral I don’t feel religion, I feel the language of the universe speaking to me: mathematics. The first thing I do is look up at the dome and count the sides. Sometimes it’s 4, 5, 6, or even 8 sided. I look all around and I see numbers, right angles, arches, symmetry. I see beauty in the design.

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But I also see opulence, control, fear, and power. I see man. Not humans, not women, just men. Of course there is Mary with baby Jesus somewhere in every church or cathedral but the essence is overwhelmingly male.

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It makes me wonder how different everything would be if the religious history had been written and sculpted by females. What would that look like?

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I think coming to terms with life and death is important. Religion clearly plays a big role in human existence and brings a form of comfort to peoples lives.

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I am still on my spiritual quest for some form of enlightenment and peace. My favorite movie (based on the book by the late, great, Carl Sagan) is Contact.

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What I like about the movie is how Jodie Foster’s character is a scientist who struggles with what we humans know and can prove versus faith. If you haven’t seen it, or read the book, I highly recommend it.

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My father said to me, right before he passed away, that I should believe in god. It was in passing and out-of-the blue so we didn’t engage in the deeper conversation we should have had at that time, or I wish we would of had.

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I wonder if I’d known he was going to die if I would have asked the questions, engaged in the conversations, I now long for. Or do those thoughts and insights only emerge with time and experience? Could I have engaged in a deep and meaningful way as a teenager?

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Probably not to the extent I can now, as an adult, but that missed opportunity haunts me. I think as an adult I hate wasted opportunity because of this loss.

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Maybe that’s why I am taking this journey and expressing my openness in my blog. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to say some of the things I’ve been thinking and feeling for so long.

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Before it is too late.

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Is there something you should say or do that you’ve been putting off? Do you sometimes worry that tomorrow will be too late?

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It reminds me of a Nickleback song that keeps coming up a lot on my iPod and has really begun to symbolize my journey in many ways. If Today Was Your Last Day.

Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
Would you call old friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies?
Would you find that one you’re dreamin’ of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you finally fall in love
If today was your last day

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But in the end, I have faith that it will all turn out just fine!

Day 17: Ways I Will Never Know

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  1. Your comments were great. Made me think… A super nova was our mother and the ocean was our father.

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