On Prayer

Some friends might feel offended by this but this is my thoughts and I’ll do my best to explain them. I’m not criticising people, but behaviours.

Someone recently said that they’d pray for me. We had shared a few conversations about my recent past and my current path. And I appreciate the intent. It’s explained to me that someone saying they will pray is really just them saying “good luck with that” or “I hope it works out”. And that’s a lot better. Or it sits better in this atheists craw.

But really I don’t want prayer. Or hope.

Last week at an albergue in Grañón I attended a “meditation” session where there was a little bit of God talk but we were asked why we were doing the Camino. I gave my answers.

I’m still the “walking wounded” even after nearly three years. I gave up something amazing “for the best” and I regret it every day. There’s no peace in my heart and mind as a result. I don’t think for a second that 500 miles of blisters and tendonitis will resolve this so it’s not really for resolution that I walk. It might be for something else. Paul says that the Camino will put something in my way for the best. And sometimes I wish I had his faith.

The Camino itself might look like a holiday but its hours of walking on hot gravel, lying in a bed in the afternoon feeling shooting pains from the bone bruises in your feet, trying to sleep while the room filled with snorers attempts to cause the roof to fall in and being endlessly patient with other humans when sometimes all you want is silence and solitude. We bear it all with a smile because these annoying humans we walk with are actually just as wounded as we. And as a Humanist I think humans are wonderful anyway so, I guess maybe that has to rub off. In the middle of the night I may swear under my breath at the snorers but I’d give them my portion of bread and water the very next day. Such is life.

But back on the subject of prayer.

Don’t pray for me. Or hope for me. When I’ve been at my lowest ebb, people have generally avoided me. Not reached out. Not done anything practical. And some took the opportunity to kick me further.

If you really wanted to help, you’d help. Not just stand around offering hopes. If you bleed, I’ll get out my first aid kit. If thirsty my water. Hungry my bread. Cold? Have my blanket. Phone running low? Have a battery. Lost a cable? Borrow my spare. Pack too heavy? I’ll carry it.

This is my Camino. To do my best for my fellow humans.

Those closest to me know what I want more than anything. I’m bleeding and they pray. My burden’s too heavy, so they hope.

This is my Camino. To endure what has been put before me.

I don’t expect anyone to change. Or do anything more than hope and pray. And even if they did, it’s too late. Three years is too long. And a lot of water has passed under that bridge. But I dream of what could happen if they acted rather than hoped. If they did something other than pray.

This is my Camino. To expect less of others.

My pack is heavy, my feet sore. My brow furrowed, my arms and neck brown. My hat is soaked with sweat, my shoulders cramped.