(This is the third post in a series written by St. Mary’s Interns Greg Petershack and Madison Moseley, as they walk the Camino de Santiago in Europe. This is an 800 mile, 1000 year old pilgrimage taken on foot through the terrain of Spain and France. Read the previous post here.)
I am usually bad at praying the rosary. I love it, don’t get me wrong (Momma Mary is the bomb!) but sitting and being still for fifteen to twenty minutes is tough for me to accept. Why? Because we live in a culture that associates doing with value. In order to be valuable, you have to prove it. You have to accomplish. That is a lie, and if you believe that you need to stop, right now. I know how hard that is. I’m an over-achiever – name a club in high school, I probably dabbled in it. AP courses? I took all my school offered but three. I was top of my class, college Fish Camp counselor, part of SMYRT, John 15, Aggie Awakening. I wasn’t satisfied unless I was doing and yet in all that doing I was not satisfied. I was tired, empty, something was still missing.
This past semester I tried to fix that.
I tried to be still. Really! But sitting in a chapel for an hour not doing anything (or honestly even just five minutes) was hard when I had papers and meetings and people that were waiting on me to “do”. I started to get it towards the end of the semester – what was missing. Out here on the Camino, Jesus has made that abundantly clear. It’s in our very name. Human beings. I’m sure it’s a simple phrase you’ve heard before, but it is so true. We were made to be human beings, not human doings.
On the Camino, there’s not much to do during the day. You get up, and you walk. Yes, you accomplish something, but while you walk, there aren’t many options. If you have music, you can listen. If people are around, you can talk. Otherwise, you are forced to simply be. If you read my last blog post you know how the Lord has been creating stillness and silence in my heart. He wants to create these in your heart, too.
The other half to that stillness is our own stillness. Have you ever stopped walking for a moment and just listened? There are so many sounds that you don’t hear. When I walk, all I hear are my own foot steps and thoughts, but when I pause my doing and just be I hear and see so much more. I look up from the gravel path and see mountains in the distance. I hear birds, crickets, animals, the wind in the wheat and the trees, others talking, others walking. A whole world I was missing in my desire to meet my goal, my desire to accomplish. If I never simply exist in the moment, I miss it. So too with God. My friends, Jesus has told me so much out here, but I very much doubt little (if any) of it is new . I’m just finally at a point where I am still enough to listen.
I said at the beginning the Rosary is hard for me. Yet now everyday I pray it from beginning to end to help me still my heart for Him to speak. I’m not saying you have to pray the whole rosary through, don’t worry. Honestly when real life kicks back in for me, I doubt. I doubt I’ll have time to continue the whole thing – praying all twenty mysteries. But I am saying to start small. I can take fifteen minutes to pray one set of mysteries. I can sit for five minutes and just exist. That is the only way I will hear His love for me, and encounter Him in the the depths of my heart.
It took me two weeks to become still enough just to hear Him say “I love you”, because I was so focused on impressing Him, fixing my problems, meeting my agenda, healing these wounds. I was focused on the doing in prayer. One day I simply let Him lead, and was present. “Gregory, I love you” Those four words at the depth of a soul are enough to change everything . “_____, I love you” My friends He wants to do the same for you. You don’t have to do anything. Just sit and be. Be His. The still, small voice will do the rest. I love you, and am praying for you, carrying you all with me at every step. Be still, hear His voice calling “Be with me.”
Greg is a recent graduate of Texas A&M and a two year intern at St. Mary’s. He plans to move to San Antonio, TX and pursue graduate level studies in English.