Camino Log: May 24, 2019
From Fillobal to Sarria
Someone told me a few days ago, “Everyone’s Camino is personal. We all walk the same path, and we all walk a different path at the same time.” The further I’ve walked, the more I’ve come to understand this to be the case. People from all over the world, who are dealing with all sorts of challenges back home, spend a few weeks along this Way “walking it all out.”
Yesterday, I met Kevin and Ian from England. We checked into the albergue at the same time. They noticed my SouthamptonFC jersey, and I noticed their jerseys as well — emblazoned with the words “Prostate Cancer UK”
Over drinks and dinner, I heard Kevin’s story. He was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and given two years to live four and a half years ago. Yes, you read that right! Kevin has outlived the doctors’ death date! And not only has he outlived his “expiration date,” Kevin has crammed all the living he can into each and every day.
After his diagnosis, he started running, and has run ultramarathons in some of the most extreme conditions imaginable — from the Sahara Desert to the Arctic Circle. He has gone all over the world speaking to anyone who will listen about the importance of “making the most of it,” which is his slogan for squeezing the juice of life from the stuff that life throws at us.
Ian, who is a few years older than Kevin, and is an accomplished cyclist in his own right, has joined his brother on this Camino as a way of raising awareness and raising money to support continuing research towards curing prostate cancer. They are committed to their mission, and they gifted me with a pin so I could tell others — not only about their journey, but also encourage others to support further research to end prostate cancer.
You can watch the video of Kevin’s story here (and PLEASE watch it!!!):
This morning as I began my walk, and continued to reflect on the fierce love of life I had witnessed in Kevin and Ian, I walked into a little hamlet and was confronted by a chestnut tree that must be at least a century old, if not older. The tree wasn’t particularly beautiful. The trunk was gnarled and contorted. The scars of lost branches were striking. And…new branches were everywhere! In spite of all the forces of death which it had endured (as were evidenced in its very being) the tree just continued to live.
As I passed by the tree, I gave thanks for the resilience of Kevin, and the commitment of his brother Ian — two men who are witnessing to the power of life even as they are facing down the specter of death. I pray that their efforts lead to breakthroughs in prostate cancer research.
I continued to think about Kevin and Ian throughout my walk today. I am particularly intrigued with Kevin’s daily imperative to “make the most of it.” I realized, once again, how privileged I am to be doing this Walk. I kept wondering how my Camino may be leading me to undertake some cause “beyond myself.”
I don’t have any answers at this moment, but I’m open to however the Spirit may be leading me. One thing I’ve thought about all day long is how I want my “fourth chapter” of life to be more than preparing for retirement so that I can then wait around for death, which is what I’ve seen so many people do as they get older.
Of course, none of us know how long we get to live the life we are given. I don’t know when my “expiration date” will be. What I do know, and what Kevin and Ian helped me remember, is that I want whatever years I have left to make a difference to those I love, to my vocation, and to the world. As far as I can tell, living for things that matter sure as hell beats waiting around to die.