Five Hundred Miles: A Review by Kevin Pranoto

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.

A Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.
Thank you for your presence
during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we have
with those who have less.
And thank you for your presence
during the Holy Days, for then we are able
to celebrate you and our families
and our friends.
For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.
For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.
For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.
For those who are lonely, we ask
you to keep them company.
For those who are depressed,
we ask you to shower upon them
the light of hope.
Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the
world that which we need most—Peace.

Maya Angelou

 

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

May the God of Eve teach your broken bones to dance.

May the God of Hagar bring you comfort in the desert times of your life.

May the God of Miriam bring companions to you on your way.

May the God of Deborah grant you courage for your battles.

May the Christ who knew Mary and Martha show you the way of balance.

May the Christ who healed the bent-over woman heal your pain.

May the Christ of Mary Magdala send you out to proclaim your story.

In the name of Christ who is the memory, hope, and authority of the future.

Amen.

 

Mary Zimmerman, “Benedicte,” first printed in “Daughters of Sarah,” January/February 1991.

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart
with your holy gifts.
Let my weakness be penetrated
with your strength this very day,
that I may fulfill all the duties
of my state conscientiously,
that I may do what is right and just.

Assist me, O Holy Spirit, in all my trials of life,
enlighten me in my ignorance,
advise me in my doubts,
strengthen me in my weakness,
help me in all my needs,
protect me in temptations,
and console me in afflictions.

Graciously hear me, O Holy Spirit,
and pour your light into my heart,
my soul, and my mind.

Assist me to live a holy life,
and to grow in goodness and grace.
Amen.

 

Adapted from Gregory F. Augustine Pierce’s A Catholic Prayer Companion: A Heartwarming Collection of Thirty Best-Loved Catholic Prayers

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

A Prayer for Teachers

May the new pocket charts, smart boards, and colorful folders,
May the desk decor and colored pens brighten every corner.
It’s the little things, O Lord.

May the students be awake and energetic to the exact degree
that the teacher is awake and energetic.
No more, no less, O Lord.

May the emails be short,
May the meetings be short,
May the phone calls just be . . . short.
Help us out, O Lord.

May the coffee do the trick and the technology just work how it’s supposed to.
May the kinks get worked out early in the morning, and – help us all – may the substitute be fabulous.
We’re not kidding, O Lord.

May they listen.
May they pay attention.
May they lean in with so much interest that they don’t care that this really is Science. English. Art History. Music.
Let them lean in and learn, O Lord.

May the teachers be brave.
May they dare to challenge, risk more, and not be afraid of those who want what they want when they want it.
Give them some back up, O Lord.

May peace enter in.
Peace among teachers, peace among classmates, peace among parents, peace at the lunchroom tables.
It could happen, O Lord.

May cynicism be trumped by lovely surprises.
May principals and teachers make room for delight.
It is the little things, isn’t it, O Lord?

May they be safe.
May they be protected from harm and hate and prejudice and danger.
We worry. We fear.
Hold them safe, O Lord.

May our teachers truly see.
May they see each story, each potential,
each struggle seated in each and every desk.
May they see the ways they can be hope for these very kids
in these very moments.
Be Thou our Vision, O Lord.

May they remember.
May teachers remember what the essential questions really are, and what called them to this work.
May administrators remember what matters.
May we all remember what it is like to be a kid in a classroom.
May this memory shape the very lesson plans.
And the moments.
Each. One.
For real, O Lord.

Amen.

-Erin Robinson Hall

This post first appeared here, on Erin Robinson Hall’s blog.

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

Divine Wisdom,

Help us to be open to your new word beyond our traditions and habits. Guide us on your pathways of peace and justice. Show us ways we need to change ourselves and our community. You know our mixed feelings about change. We grieve the losses that come with change and fear the uncertainties. But we also feel an expectancy as we await the new opportunities and new blessings you have for us. Give us courage and renewed energy to join you in working for change. Give us grace to embrace your vision of wholeness for our world. Let it be.

–Jann Aldredge-Clanton

 

Used with permission. Adapted from Seeking Wisdom: Inclusive Blessings and Prayers for Public Occasions (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2010).

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

God of new beginnings, grant us the courage to listen and respond to your call. Help us understand that this might mean stepping out of the familiar and into the unknown.

Amen.

-Karen Gilbert

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

Blessed is she who rises up while it is yet still dark,
for she has a sense of patience about the world.

Blessed is she who clothes herself in the beauty of strength,
for her life’s work demands such adornment.

Blessed is she who stretches forth her hand to her sister, the poor,
for they are the oppressed of the oppressed.

Blessed is she who makes herself no tapestry coverings,
for her hands weave greater labors of love.

Blessed is she who speaks words of wisdom,
for the world is not waiting to hear.

Give her the fruit of her mind,
for she has dared to envision a better world.

-Shirley B. Wright

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

Author of all knowledge and truth, Source of all beauty and reason,

Empower and inspire us to join with you in continuing to break down barriers of prejudice and injustice and ignorance so that all people–black and brown and white, female and male of all faiths–may have the freedom to become all you created us to be in your divine image. Fill us with your love so that we can be your agents of change in our community and in our world.

Amen.

Jann Aldredge-Clanton

 

Used with permission. Adapted from Seeking Wisdom: Inclusive Blessings and Prayers for Public Occasions (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2010), 18.

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

Lord, please do not abandon me to my stubborn heart. Help me to learn to listen so that I might rejoice, give thanks, and be a blessing.

Amen.

-Mandy McMichael