Thursday, November 14, 2019

El Camino De Santiago

El Camino De Santiago

That is the temporal road, that straddles between at least two countries in Europe.  But the spiritual road is Christ.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

And without him, there is no going.  No knowing. And no living.

And he is not limited by any boundaries.

During the time of Christ, the main transport of travel was walking.  And indeed Christ did a lot of walking in the countryside of the Holy Land and beyond.   These exhausting physical exertions in rugged places we are told had made the human Christ an envious picture of sturdiness, hardiness, and physical strength.  Not the effeminate figure with dainty hands we see in current-day images.

Constant trekking from place to place was the one physical exercise that aided men of that milieu in transcending the physical realm into the mystical or spiritual. Like extreme athletes of our times, people then attain natural “highs” or altered states doing the normal routines of their living – walking to get to work, walking to search for their food, walking to learn of things, etc., routines that transformed them into a hardy people.

Today we consider our recreational running and jogging as our camino to better our bodies and minds and or to make ourselves fit for the rigors of our daily living.  But soldiers and armies then went through incessant “forced marches” to prepare for battle.

In all this, walking had the goal of achieving temporal goals for the partakers. For that is what walking does. A draining of physical energy and vigor to lighten the spirits and make them soar to heights.  And that is what is intended.

However, many participants of the Camino de Santiago consider it as a means to attain many temporal goals – like a way to finding themselves, as the possible portal that could lead to finding a worthy mate for life, a saintly venue to meet people who inspire or are agreeable to us, a way to practice a bit of the contemplative life, a way to find help in our individual lives’ many challenges, etc.

But I do believe this temporal way is intended for a greater purpose, and this is to meet and imitate the spiritual or mystical Way, Christ.  And in the singularity of the eye of our intention, no temporal baggage ought to be added to burden that knowledge and following.  We do it for the singular purpose of following Christ because He demands it from his trusty and loyal sojourners.

And taking this route one cannot go wrong, remembering that temporal goals however commendable are fleeting and do not last long.

And is the Camino then the only path that leads to our spiritual enlightenment and guidance?

One doubts that, especially because not all people can possibly have the time or means to travel to that distant place, so one can walk over 800 kilometers.

There are enough kilometers where our own individual lives are, without necessitating any distant travel.

As a species humans are quite unique, as one city week-end runner in the US once remarked:  We drive in our cars for 10 miles so we can get to a park and run around it for 2 miles.

We can define our own camino in the comfort and ease of our own work-a-day lives wherever we find ourselves, and it would be just as effective, rigorous, and acceptable.

I have been routinely jogging and walking for almost 30 years, already covering thousands of miles and wearing away countless sneakers.  At times the journey had been pained and difficult, at other times light-hearted and joyous. I had jogged on sunny days, in the cover of early night, or under pouring rain.   Under a temperate climate or under the blistering sun of the tropics. The journey and route running the entire gamut of human living.

I like to believe that my search for the Camino of Life has led me to a better place than when I started.  Not the ideal place, but a better place.  After all that is all and how much this earthly life promises to each one of us.

Monday, November 04, 2019

God Works In Mysterious Ways

Every time some things happen in an unexpected way that stumps our thinking, we justify by saying that God works in mysterious ways.

This is also true when unexpected things are done by people that we thought could never accomplish such things or amount to anything commendable.  Still, we say that God works in mysterious ways and saves the day.  A passable enough justification to provide logic or reason for such occurrences.

But there are instances when our own preconceived biases prevent us from seeing it that way, and instead dismiss the doer as nothing more than a charlatan or a faker.  Our usual prescription for understanding such unusual events fails to apply, and instead we turn to the other default.  The doer has to be evil, even if the expected results of his actions are exemplary.  Good cannot be eked out from such an inherently evil person.

Very early in his life, Trump had been like the many other billionaires in the world, who are never satisfied with their first million, or their first billion.  They have to have more.  Their coffers are big enough to accommodate almost all wealth in the world.  Their unmitigated craving for worldly successes and the power and influence that go with it, appear to have no limits.  The thirst just gets bigger and bigger.  Think Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.

But something happened to Trump when he turned his sights to becoming president.  He metamorphosed into something completely different. A completely changed person.  And he must have been sufficiently prescient to realize that becoming president would make him abandon his old ways of wanting more money, or continuing to pursue his hedonistic and wayward ways, or to show complete disregard for his troubled country.  It is conventional knowledge to accede that those who enter politics would actually lose part of their wealth.  Instead he embraced the wholesome changes with will and vigor, even going some steps beyond like actually choosing not to receive his salary as president, which is no chump change.  He could be a millionaire with just his salary.  Not very much, but still a millionaire

Thus, for all discernible intents and purposes, Trump the candidate was a completely different person to the core than Trump the president.  Of course, the innate accidents of his being as a person are still there – he is still irreverent and coarse in speech, he never allows any daylight on negative comments directed at him without a scathing riposte, etc.

And his winning the election could be said to be more than surreal, though short of being mystical.  No single pollster thought he could win.  All the pundits laughed at loud at his chances of winning.  Those of his party included.  In hindsight even the now infamous and sinister-looking Peter Strzok was very bold to write that the foregone election would be 100m to zero in favor of Hillary.

And his win did not come because a greater number of voters picked him, though there are pesky questions as to how many exactly of those votes cast came from legitimate voters.  His win came from a selected number of voters who were in strategic states to give Trump the winning electoral votes, which he topped by a very comfortable margin.  Thus, no legitimate question or challenge could be asked about the win.  Simply, another “miracle” attributed to Trump from the founders via the Electoral College.

But this short of miraculous win came with a deadly price, Trump did not spare himself from the rage, anger, and mortified wrath that a committed cadre of disgruntled detractors which had not allowed him to have a moment of peace, or allowed him sufficient time to rule.   They have tried to batter him from pillar to post, unable to hold their mystified rage and rancor, from the first moments of his administration.

And this is where the US is right now.

Being on the right side of history does not assure one tremendous and overwhelming popular support from all sectors of the polity.  Many times one has to stand alone, solitary and lonely with only the godly assurance that what you are doing is righteous and thus one must soldier on, and somehow still yearn to be victorious.

And in this heady milieu of Trumpism, how can one escape the uncanny parallelism between him and another historic figure?  Granted many personal facets from both figures are almost diametrically opposite or different, but still a number of  pivotal details in their rule do jibe and can stand as healthy juxtaposition.

That historic figure was also reviled by all learned men of his time, men who occupied high social status and/or sat in the fearsome hierarchy of the ruling classes and the self-anointed ones who were pre-ordained to dispense with the knowledge and wisdom to impart to the governed.  They mocked and derided him for his unworldly claims and plebian ways.  Even his own people turned their backs on him.

His muted claim as the progenitor of their salvation and renaissance was rudely chastised and derided. And he had also inferred that following him would allow the benighted people of Israel to return to their roots in faith and become great again.  Sounds familiar?

And we continue with the self-same hope that God will continue to work in mysterious ways.