A few years ago, our son William led a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. He had a small flock of pilgrims, or peregrinos as they are known along the Camino. Exactly two peregrinos: his parents.
William selected the route, made the reservations, provided the pre-reading and maps. He had been well-schooled by his mentor George Greenia at the College of William & Mary.
On our first night, as we sat together preparing for our first walk the next morning, William suggested that we focus our daily conversations around some of life’s biggest questions. And, he had some suggestions for us to consider. (Like I said, he had been well-schooled.)
And so it went. Each night along the Camino, at dinner, we would unpack the question for the next day. As we walked, moving in and out of time together and time alone, we moved in and out of conversations surrounding the day’s big question.
One of our conversations lingered across many days.
Where is a God? How do we know God? How do we experience God?
Little did William know at the time, but his peregrinos had both written their undergraduate theses on topics in the Philosophy of Religion. Peggy: The problem of evil and the nature of suffering. Jim: The nature of a Deity in African Traditional Religions.
As I remember it, the conversations were wide and deep and satisfying.
I have no doubt that Erin and Hal would have enjoyed this pilgrimage and the exploration of Life’s Big Questions, since our dinner conversations with them often move into the same open waters.
This morning I sat listening for God. I sat with my coffee in hand, and I waited. Our contemplation garden offers a natural calm for waiting.
I soon heard the birds calling from every direction. They had been calling before I set my ear to listen, of course. Songs. Stories of the night. Advertising jingles of love.
A sole female cardinal chirped to my right. In a flash, she swooped into the Beauty Bush directly in front of me. From 3 feet away, she looked me straight in the eye and chirped several more times. Cocking her head ever so slightly, she chirped at me.
This bird knows me. She knows I sit in this garden most mornings, and she knows I will fill her feeder, which at this moment stands empty. She greets me and she surprises me, and she reminds me to take care of her. If I listen, she beckons my response.
The pilgrimage continues.