We had planned to leave Cambridge on Monday morning, soon after I finished a conference call that could not be rescheduled. After a whirlwind pack up and clean, we finally left the house at 4:45pm. We arrived very late that night at Minga’s parents home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where we will leave our car and come and go from Baltimore-Washington International, Thurgood Marshall Airport. A couple of days later, I noticed that I had left all my collard shirts and a sport coat hanging in our bedroom closet. The good news is that on our way to Spain this coming Thursday, we have a six hour layover in Boston, of all places!
Oh the details, the minutiae, the endless cleaning, and all the STUFF. A major blessing of this trip is the opportunity to literally touch everything we own. We touch, we consider, we decide to keep or to throw. We shed. 25 boxes of books left the house. Lots of trash and several big, blue recycle bins on rollers, overfull with old paper, file folders and all sorts recyclable junk, were rolled up to the curb and taken away. If you had come by the house during our leave-taking, it was very likely that you would go home with one or another of the treasures we just could not keep. And THANK YOU to everyone who came by and helped us clear out.
This will be our third sabbatical since 1998—a third life reset. Emerging themes for this year of travel together in ministry are pilgrimage, peace and reconciliation, and recommitment to one another.
One profound experience of sabbatical is allowing myself to be stripped away. In addition to all the organizing, shedding and leaving stuff behind, I find that I am also leaving a big part of who I am. My identity is so embedded in context—my roles, my friends, my surroundings. As I go away from the outward facts of my like, away from much of what lets me know who I am, I turn inward. I am stripped down to what is at my core. The experience is challenging, even terrifying. Yet it is also enormously freeing. I can find and explore parts of myself that have yet to surface.I can let myself be shaped by new surroundings, by new people. I can be more attentive to the easily missed, small, tender wonders of life. And I can clear out the stuff of my heart, the clutter of my life, so as to be more open to God’s promptings.
To walk on the Camino de Santiago, Minga and I have obtained an official credential from American Pilgrims on the Camino. This credential, or passport, allows us to stay at hostels run especially for pilgrims. After each overnight stay, our passports will be stamped by the people who run the hostel. When we reach Santiago de Compostela, we go to the Oficina de Acogida de Peregrinos (the Pilgrims Welcome Office) where we will present our credentials and be asked “Why did you walk the Camino?” Upon a satisfactory answer, we will receive a “Compostela,” a document that certifies our pilgrimage.
I have left my life in Cambridge. I am carrying a very small fraction of my worldly possessions. And I am walking with the questions, small and large.
It is good to read about your careful and energetic preparations for your sabbatical. May your intentions for ministry, peace and recommitment find fruition. I look forward to reading your accounts of your trip. Blessings to you both. Mary
Hi Minga and Jonathan,
Peace be with you and upon you in your travels. It was really interesting to read about your goals for the trip. You both have been so good about working these times to reflect into the fabric of your lives. I had a good laugh at the part when you left so much later than intended for MD! It was the same for us when we embarked on our drive to FL last November. We thought we’d be gone after the plumber who shut down things left, but noooo, it was around 7pm. It takes a lot to pull up roots and find our wings.
Michael and I planned to walk El Camino many years ago. We were in our thirties and going to England to meet up with my cousin studying there, and then on by ferry to Spain. It never happened because my cousin set up a room for us with a local family and we were having such an amazing time living in this small country village outside of Canterbury, the only U.S. folks too, that we decided to stay and get to know the place I had always thought of as the colonizer. There’s a beautiful movie, The Way (2010) with Martin Sheen and his son Emilio Estevetz about walking the path. It’s on Netflix if you get a chance.
Yes Denise Jonathan and I watched the movie The Way and learned a few things. There is a funny shot of the female standing guard on the roadside while 3 men pee, and then 3 men stand guard to obscure the female as she pees.
At the last moment I decided to bring the ukelele. And JVB has his violin. Keep singing.
Allan and I will look forward to your posts here. Your willingness to step into the unknown with only Spirit as a guide is a challenge to me. I know so many people who want to walk the Camino. It will be a privilege to read posts from both of you about your pilgrimage.
It’s great to read both of your testimonies about the journey – at this beginning point. I look forward to the continuing posts. I love this way of keeping in touch. Jonathan, are you ditching the need for collared shirts and jacket, or are you picking up some more from the airport on Thurs.? I’ll be on my way to an EMDR conference in Philly when you’re here. Blessings on your journey. love, Susan
This beautiful post is an invitation to us all to strip down, ourselves, to notice more around and within us, and to prepare for the new. Thank you and blessings!
Best wishes to you both on this remarkable journey!
Hi Jonathan and Minga ~ So glad to have been able to participate with your leave-taking!
Jonathan your words about stripping down and connecting to your core strike me deeply. It is so easy to become consumed with our roles – what we see ourselves as and what others see us as – I have found it so important to continually strip away, get down to basics and listen for what is being asked of me.
Blessings on your path.
wonderful, as expected: the comings and goings of a strong heart, two strong hearts, made stronger, let us pray, by your pilgrimage. (why not let those shirts and jacket hang there? a yet more complete discharge.)
Hi: Thanks for this lovely post. Very inspiring. I long for the simple life but I am not there yet. I had the pleasure of meeting Minga in Vieques this winter. I wish you both well. Paz, Kathy
Jonathan and Minga, thanks for keeping a record of this transition. I appreciate it and wish you well!