There is Hope | John Philip Newell | Camino de Santiago

By John Philip Newell

During the first week of June this summer, Ali and I walked one hundred miles along the Camino Del Norte in Spain with twelve young men and women from seven nations and six religions, praying for peace. It was an immensely hope-filled time.

Gathering at the Bay of Biscay

Gathering at the Bay of Biscay

Every morning and afternoon we would stop en route, sometimes just at the roadside, at other times perched on a cliff top overlooking the Bay of Biscay, to study one another’s scriptures and hear one another’s stories. Around midday we would stop for lunch, sometimes just clustering together on a busy village sidewalk, at other times on a wild sandy beach able to dip into the sea before eating. But what struck us most in our lunchtime sharing was that at the beginning of the week we would buy our bread and supplies separately and make our own sandwiches amidst scattered conversation. By the end of the week our purchased bread and cheese, fruit and chocolate, was being placed in the middle to be shared by all. Our simple lunches had become common feasts.

Common lunchtime feast

Common lunchtime feast

So, what is it that sets us free to share, and in sharing move from the limitations of isolation to the bounty of relationship? In our case there was a turning point. It came one evening halfway through the pilgrimage. We were gathered together around a single long table and we began, for the first time in the week, to really address some of the differences between us and more deeply feel some of the brokenness between our traditions. There were tears and there was struggle. But there was openheartedness and there was sweet mutual reverence.

I have hope for the future. It has been deepened by this experience. The hope came through the willingness of these young men and women to transcend boundaries while at the same time cherishing their uniquenesses.  And it came through the costly practice of allowing ourselves to feel the discomfort and pain of division while remaining true to the gift and blessing of relationship.

Heartbeat needs to serve this relationship between the great wisdom traditions of humanity with even greater intentionality and even deeper financial commitment than we have thusfar. I hope you will be part of this journey with us.