Those around me tell me that as a college graduate, I’m supposed to be preoccupied with my resumé, leveraging my education and diploma, getting ready for a career in my field and getting my life in order after the idyllic world of university. Since I’m not working, I should be building valuable experience through a post-grad position or internship, applying for grad schools, and entering the ‘real world,’ wherever that is (I’ll let you know if I find it). In truth, I’m not so good at this. After all, “pilgrim” isn’t exactly a marketable identity unless you happen to be applying for a job whose perks include a roman collar. So why would someone like me choose to uproot themselves in such an important time, and take a little walk across an entire country? Why be a pilgrim?
I could tell you about my story, share my camino, but I won’t. The thing about adventures and stories is that they’re not something that you write about on a blog or shelve away in some special pictures that gather dust. They don’t sit quietly in you heart and you don’t just move from experience to experience, gaining merit badges to put on a social justice sash, “oh, I did Encuentro, and Cortina, and IFTJ and this is my ‘I talked to homeless people!’ patch!”
No, adventures aren’t to be read about. They are to be experienced. You’re on your own journey, and it is just as important. Walk with me. Let the people and places and love and life that you know come to the surface. Remember what others have taught you and don’t forget their songs. They are sacred.
Fr. Gillick once told a group of us about to depart for the Dominican Republic that “Adventure is, by its nature, something that happens to other people.” My favorite quote, by a Jesuit named Anthony de Mello, reads, “I used to be stone deaf. I would see people stand up and go through all kinds of gyrations. They called it dancing. It looked absurd to me — until one day I heard the music!” The point: things that look absurd, like walking across all of Spain with a pack on your back, make sense if you hear the music. The places and people and experiences you find by pushing yourself to be uncomfortable and meet the world and its brokenness and love will shape you beyond words. You’ll become vulnerable. You’ll be hurt. But you’ll also come alive. Your heart will be touched in a way that you can’t do anything but follow where it leads. You just start putting foot in front of foot and pretty soon, you end up in places that you’d never imagine, like being chased by a bull down a street in Puente La Reina. That’s a story, I suppose, for a different time, though I will tell you that if you get the opportunity to do such a thing, take it.
You have one life. One. It is a wild and precious thing; how you live that life, how you invest your love, is the most important question you can answer. It is the only adequate response to the incredibly sacred and wordlessly special gift you’ve been given by being alive. Pedro Arrupe writes that falling and staying in love will decide everything. This is true beyond words; your task, as a Creighton student, as a Cortinian, is to let the world overwhelm you with its love. To be touched by the real and the pure. To listen to the voice of God alive and pulsing around you and within you. It’s to go places and try new things and discover yourself by discovering those around you. You have an incredible set of gifts to give, and you will never know they exist within you until you find reason to share them. It’s to let the world, love, and other people mission you. To have your heart set on fire, and let that fire spread to the world.
So be a pilgrim. What, who is calling you? Where do you feel your heart and soul longing to be? Find the things worth living for, the people who will touch your soul in a way you cannot escape. Carry those people in your heart and your eyes, carry the grand spectacles you encounter in the world and in the world of your soul and let them pour from you. Do things that make you uncomfortable, and bring others along. Go places for the simple reason that you desire to go there; find God and Love alive and let them be the most powerful forces in your life and the world. Live as a prophet. Live as yourself. Live. As some graffiti on the camino poignantly reads, love and live, dangerously. ¡Buen Camino! -Tim
Tim Nendick is a 2012 graduate of Creighton University & former RA in the program. He recently walked a month from St. Jean Pied de Port, France, to Muxía, Spain, completing a centuries old pilgrimage called the Camino de Santiago.
You can find his pictures here.