Gratitude is the feeling that I sit with tonight. The willingness of everyone to share their talents has been overwhelming. It feels like stewardship in a real and deep way. Everyone is contributing their talents to push us to this goal of reaching Santiago de Compenstella.

We started with a physical token that is our processional cross of St. James. At first, my sons and I embraced the duty of carrying it forward. Soon, one group after another quickly volunteered to march with it in hand. Father Chris’s kiss of the cross struck me hard as a physical sign of his devotion to our Lord. Esteban and Angel had a readiness to take it on our hardest day to O Cebreiro. After they volunteered, I told him that they could pass it to other folks throughout the hike. When I tried to relieve them of it towards midday, they refused to give it up. They were determined to climb that mountain with that cross at hand.

This Camino stewardship does not stop at the carrying of our St. James Cross. It has extended to the daily routine that we share. Below you will find a few items I have observed in the past few days:

  • Laundry
    Before people wash clothes, they reach out and make sure to see if anyone else is in need of laundry. They then wash and fold the items for the group.
  • Lending Money
    Need a Euro or two? Never have I seen so many folks so quickly step up and help each other with change. Maybe it helps that their currency is all kinds of different colors and feels like monopoly money.
  • Finding extra beds
    At some Albergues, we filled them up and they didn’t have beds for everyone. Some people ran ahead to those towns and secured shelter for everyone in the group.
  • Translating
    Many times, I have found myself stuck and others have helped translate to make sure there is clear communication. Others have even translated prayers and blessings so everyone can understand.
  • Music
    One group volunteered to pick out music and lead songs. It brings much beauty to our worship at Mass.
  • Securing the Church for Mass
    Our priests have successfully found beautiful churches to celebrate Mass, night after night.
  • Leg Brace
    One of our pilgrims is suffering from some shin splints and another pilgrim donated a leg brace to help with the pain and it has seemed to help a great deal.
  • Lectoring / Serving
    The young men have mostly taken this on and without hesitating, they jump at the opportunity to assist in the liturgy.
  • Chocolate Carrying
    When 4.5lbs of chocolate was purchased, people came forth so not just one man would have to carry the burden of chocolate that would last multiple nights. Thankfully with the help of several young men that chocolate was consumed and that will no longer be a burden we will have to carry.

I think sometimes when we have talent in an area, we hesitate to assist because we don’t want to assume someone needs help or we don’t want to impose. I am here to tell you that people stepping forward has made this pilgrimage better for everyone. We don’t always have to wait to be asked to step in and help. Sometimes we need to look at our ability to help and what the Spirit hints to us to do. Then we need to act, whether or not we are specifically asked.

It is easier to do this on the Camino when your goal is so clearly defined, but look in your life for opportunities to do this in our journey to reach heaven together. We are all called to be stewards of the gifts that we have received from God. No matter how small you think they might be. They might make a big difference to the pilgrim that you know as your neighbor.