Walk in a Relaxed Manner is the title of a book by Joyce Rupp, a popular spiritual writer. It is a wonderful way of preparing for the pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. There are plenty of practical guidebooks about towns and food and accommodations, but her book provides spiritual preparation for the pilgrimage.
Think of the interior pilgrimage as of at least as much significance as the outer journey. Probably more significant, since its lessons last a lifetime!
I journeyed on that ancient pilgrimage route in Northwestern Spain during a sabbatical in 2009. I like the title of Rupp’s book. It’s primarily about the physical and spiritual journey of the Camino. But it is also a good way to journey through life itself. It makes sense whether preparing for the Camino or for our daily lives.
The reminder to walk in a relaxed manner comes to me often when I am rushing around, either physically rushing around or psychologically cramming my head with too many projects and plans. The phrase serves to remind me to slow down and appreciate the journey, to relish each step of the way. It’s along the same path as the reminder to stop and smell the roses.
Jesus today offers his own advice for a journey. He instructs the twelve about what to pack and how to be with those they encounter on the journey. They should be as light and unencumbered as possible. They are to welcome hospitality and they are to be free to move on if they find no welcome. It’s valuable to point out that shaking the dust from one’s feet is a symbolic action, not any sort of violence.
I presume that the disciples move on in freedom, knowing that some people simply cannot accommodate them. There may be an issue in the household. They may not be ready to hear what is being said. How welcoming are you when people come to your door and ask if you have met Christ?
The twelve are sharing in the ministry of Jesus. Material and physical concerns take a minor place next to the urgency of preaching the kingdom of God. Jesus had many places to go and people to deal with. Those who follow him share in that urgent need.
The need exists still today. We have many other tools at our disposal than Jesus and the twelve had. We have social media and myriad means of communication. We do not need to go on a physical journey. We can reach people even from the confines of our homes or offices.
I can set my Zoom background to be anywhere in the world. Or out of the world! If I do travel, the advice about staying with those who offer a welcome still holds. My experience of itinerant ministry is that many fellow Christians are very happy to welcome people into their homes. It becomes a form of ministry for both the host and the guest.
Walk in a relaxed manner. That is wise advice for a physical journey. Even wiser for a spiritual journey!