Blistering feet, hauling heavy bags, getting lost in the middle of nowhere are all terrible experiences that you might expect to encounter during the 500-mile trek on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. As uncomfortable as these experiences may be, Lauren Brewer Bass recognizes these pilgrimage experiences as metaphors for her spiritual journey into calling in her book, Five Hundred Miles: Reflections on Calling and Pilgrimage.
Reflecting on her own pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, Lauren invites us to walk westward with her on this ancient path. Through personal stories and inner dialogues, she opens her life up for us to look into her mind and heart’s transformation during the long spiritual journey to Santiago, Spain. Lauren parallels stories from her pilgrimage with life lessons that she has learned to be true regarding her own journey into her calling. Having experienced seasons of dryness, confusion, and doubt pertaining to her calling, she beautifully conveys a strong message of perseverance and hope as she unfolds her understanding of becoming who God has called her to be. She lays the good and the bad out there for us to soak up and process as we reflect on our own call stories.
Lauren includes in the book a conversation that she had with a fellow pilgrim over tea. A lady gave a gift to Lauren: she shared words of wisdom she had heard from a monk at one of the monasteries while on the pilgrimage. The monk’s words were, “As pilgrims walk west, day after day, something in them dies too. . . . In the space of that death, something new will be born.” This quote is both bothersome and hopeful, in that our journey to calling is long and winding with some dead-end encounters, but, as Lauren reminds us, our death doesn’t necessarily mean we are doing it wrong. Instead, something very much alive may be awakening through our struggles and fears of walking into the “next” of our lives.
Through the sharing of her struggle into calling, we reap the benefits of being encouraged that we are not alone on this journey into calling. Lauren does not sugarcoat her struggles, but authentically shares what her journey has looked like in realizing the call of God in her life. Although the journey may be demanding, Lauren shows us that it is not without beauty and that every part of our journey has its worth.
If you or someone you know is in a season of discernment, I encourage you to get a copy of this book. It is full of practical wisdom, and will encourage you on your journey towards calling.
You can buy a copy of Five Hundred Miles: Reflections on Calling and Pilgrimage here, from Smyth and Helwys.