Monday, December 5, 2016

Ironic Advent 2016 Meditation #7b: Buen Adviento, Peregrinos


 
Ironic Advent 2016 Meditation #7b*:
Buen Adviento, Peregrinos


I made a pilgrimage out to Hardscrabble, Indiana today (see picture above). If you've read Ironic Advent #5 (you can find the link in the margin of this page), you know why. If you haven't read it, I recommend it. I liked it, though I cried during parts of it (writing it, I mean). 

So, I spent much of the day finding the place. It was (you may say) satisfactory. If you've read the "Journey of the Magi" (you can't find the link but I trust your Google skills), you will "get" that last sentence. If you haven't read it, I recommend it, even though I didn't write it, plus I have never cried reading it. Turns out it was written by some guy from St. Louis named Tom Eliot who had the absolute worst fake British accent you will ever hear. Still, he tossed out a good line occasionally. Do I dare to eat a peach, for example. 

I did some other pilgrimaging along the way. I mean I was moving in a direction with a purpose that I hope was good for my soul. Whenever I say "soul," dear reader, I always mean something like my "whole being." I certainly don't want to exclude my body of which I am rather fond. There are other bodies of which I'm fond as well, but that's particularly relevant to this meditation. We'll save that for my Ironic Anti-Augustinian Rant #4, 328.

I also guess you could say I did some pilgrimaging in that I was being a pilgrim and aging while doing so, or that I was an aging pilgrim. In fact, some swo-called people keep reminding me that I'm old. I remind them that I have not and will not give up my right to free speech as protected by the First Amendment (which I hold includes my right to set their hair on fire as my protest against their ageism). 

All that traveling through a wintry (but satisfactory) landscape has got Ben Camino tired, fellow pilgrims. As I've been writing really long, involved meditations this Advent, I hope you will allow me to include a short one since I really need some sleep and, in truth, I can't wait to hear about John the Baptist tomorrow morning in church (well, it's this morning already technically). 


So, I thought I would base my meditation on a question asked me today by a dear friend, a long-lost cousin actually, who asked me, politely (I suppose she is just nice OR she heard about my interpretation of the First Amendment), "may I ask, why Ben Caminio?" She didn't mean why do I exist, but why did I, the would-be anonymous author of these meditations, chose Ben Camino as the title of his blog and the name of his narrator?


 

 They don't call me ironic for nothing. So, my first response was, yes. Meaning, yes you may ask. I bet she got a real belly laugh out of that. Anyway, after finishing one leg of my journeying for the day, I pulled over and wrote something like this. Or, exactly this, really, given the handy cut and past option: 

<I've been driving and couldn't respond. "Buen Camino" means good way, good road, happy trails. More specifically, it's the common way of greeting pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, which I walked in 2012 and 2013. In that context, it means something more like "blessings on your pilgrimage journey". To some degree the pilgrimage motivated the meditations. I named the narrator Ben Casino for that reason.>


Dear reader, I want you to know that my stupid phone "corrected" Camino to Casino multiple times until I have up and just typed Camino into the next comment and complained about the phone. The last time I complained about the phone, I tried to write that it made me want to cuss, but it "auto-messed-it-up" to want to customer. And you think the election wasn't rigged? The whole system is rigged!  Sorry, I'm tired. 

Anyway, or anyways as Jennifer Lynne Ricke likes to say, I've been thinking about that further on my long drive back home in order to walk the dog and make it to church to hear about John the Baptist tomorrow. 

I don't think I REALLY thought a lot about the relationship of pilgrimage to Advent when I chose the name, but I've certainly thought a lot about it since. For now, just this. Advent is obviously a journey, a setting forth in a direction with a purpose that we hope is good for our soul (that is, our whole being). And we want to make a good pilgrimage. A good Advent. The liturgy and the gospel readings and, even more so, my ironic meditations (watch out for the lightning bolt! ), are meant to help us on the way, warn us of potential problems, point us in the proper direction, or sometimes just to motivate us to keep going so as to make sure our feet and legs hurt like hell at the end of the day. 



But one thing you learn on the Camino is that, even when you are walking alone (for a time), in the words of that old African-American spiritual, "you never walk alone." [Um, by the way, in case you were worried, Ben Camino is fully aware of the fact (in fact, as you know, Ben Camino is SO FULL of SO MANY facts) that "You'll Never Walk Alone" is actually from the Broadway musical, Carousel, and was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. I wish it were not the case, because I like my first sentence above much  better than the truth.]

Regardless of the truth, one thing you learn on the Camino is that, even when you are walking alone. you never really walk alone. I did a whole long lecture at a conference in Germany once about the community aspects of pilgrimage. True, I was mostly talking about Chaucer, but I was also talking about my own experiences. Pilgrims pilgrim together even when they are alone. And they often compare notes, compare stories, compare blisters, and sometimes even sleep together. I MEANT IN THE SAME HOSTEL, COME ON PEOPLE. 






And, believe me, and I'm sure some of you do, I have a LOT more to say about all that. But not tonight/this morning. Right now, I just want to encourage us, Advent pilgrims all, that one reason we need common liturgy and common traditions (instead of each having our own or making them up as we go along) is that we are in this together. It's not just your Advent practice or Advent meditations or Advent preparation or, closer to home, your Advent irony. I share you pain. And you share mine. And our expectation and hope, if we have any. And if I don't, please share some of yours with me. I promise to help you deal with your optimism problem if you have too much of it. 



So, I'm wishing all of us a good journey. Blessings on our journey together. May it be . . . satisfactory. Buen Camino, peregrinos. Buen Adviento. 


I've added in a few Camino pics so you can get a little idea of what I'm talking about.The so-called "hermit of the pilgrim chapel" (with Ben Camino in the picture above) actually threw away his cigarette just before this picture. I thought that was ironic. 

*This is the updated, revised version of meditation #7, with photos. 




 

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