My writing today for the Chaplain’s Corners was supposed to be about a trip to Spain I was to take with my sister this past July. We were going to hike 150 miles of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage also known as the “The Way of St. James.” Unfortunately, my parents’ health precluded us from going on this three-week journey. We were needed here to care for them and plan for their imminent future.
At first I was disappointed, sad, and frustrated, but knew it was what God called me to do. My parents have spent their lives loving, supporting and caring for my four siblings and me.
Still, this cancellation was a major interruption for me. I had trained all spring to walk miles each day, purchased new hiking shoes and back pack, read several books about my journey and planned to the ninth degree to be ready for the trip. Instead of being resentful and angry, I took this as a sign that I was needed here. God was speaking to me. My life right then needed to be life for my parents. I needed to be and still am their caregiver. I am Christ’s hands preparing their food, managing their meds, doing their laundry, handling their finances, cleaning their bodies, their home, etc. Is it permanent? No. But for now, this interruption in my life has given me many blessings along with the obvious frustrations.
I have had the opportunity to slow down and live more in the present and feel God’s presence all around me through my parents. I value the bond I have with them and the many sacred moments we have shared throughout our lives. Whether cleaning out the garage, closets, or drawers, or hanging with my parents watching Wheel of Fortune or Golden Girls, I have reconnected with them in a new and profound way. My parents have helped me live more for each day instead of planning away and worrying about next steps in my life. At this point in their lives, they do live each day for each day.
It has been fun looking through old photos, letters written to my parents from all their children, and sifting through piles of memorabilia. The parents I remember growing up yet almost forgot have come back alive. It’s easy to see what’s immediately before me: old, broken bodies with minds not as sharp as they once were. But I also see the parents who modelled love, integrity, character and love of others for me. It is through them that I am who I am today.
The Camino will still be there in years to come and I truly hope to hike it one day. For now I am on another journey from life’s curves and road blocks. I choose to embrace this interruption as an opportunity to be truly present to my parents and to see the grace of God in it all.