Well, the Camino threw me into the deep end of the “trust” pool last night to teach me how to swim in the waters of surrender . I bought a SIM card to use in my phone for the remainder of the walk. I wanted to be easily accessible to my children even when I don’t have wifi. Before I left home, I arranged with AT&T to unlock my phone so all I had to do was switch out the Nano chip. I borrowed a paper clip and performed the operation. That is when my phone flatlined and never recovered. I even tried to resuscitate my original SIM card. No luck. It was dead.
To say I grieved the loss is not hyperbole. I hadn’t even realized how much my life was connected to my phone. I could no longer stay in touch with my family, I couldn’t take any pictures, no journaling or blogging, no Camino guide, no currency converter, no Spanish/English translation app, no social media, no Two Dots, no Kindle books, no music, no paying my bills, no email, no alarm, I didn’t even know what time it was!
I went to sleep…no, I went to bed; it was quite some time before I could sleep. I wrestled between trust and panic. How in the world was I going to fix this in Spain?! I could’t speak the language. I didn’t know if it was an Apple issue or AT&T or SIM card company problem. I couldn’t call them or email them or Google the solution. And, I wouldn’t even get to a big city for two more days.
I finally got to a place of surrender by remembering that as life or death as this felt, no human life was actually at stake here. My family was okay. I was okay. It was just a phone. (And some very special apps to me.) I let go and attempted to embrace the lesson of being present. I may not be able to capture pictures but I could take them inside myself. As much as I wanted to share this journey with you, perhaps, I was supposed to walk it simply for myself. Maybe I needed to trust the path without leaning on my Camino app. I could walk through the day without worrying about the time and I could depend on a fellow peregrino to wake me up in the mornings. The hardest thing that was asked of me was to trust that my family would be able to survive without me. After all, they had done it once before when I was on “Survivor” for seven weeks without any contact. I finally fell asleep, sad but surrendered.
This morning I woke up, prayed and turned on my phone. Hmmm…perhaps, this one only turns on by prayer and fasting. It was still demon possessed! I resigned myself to say, “Okay, so what does this unanswered prayer make possible.” With faith (and a bit of just faking it) I told God that I trusted Him and I asked him to teach me whatever lessons that were more valuable to me than all that my phone offered.
I went down to breakfast and was soon completely present to the beauty of the rising sun and the simple gift of breathing and walking and the time and presence to enjoy them. I felt peace about the road ahead and whatever that held or didn’t hold. At the same time, I was aware of the truth of the saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I was no longer grieving the death of my phone but I realized I was genuinely sad that I wouldn’t be able to write and blog everyday. Here’s the thing – and this is no small thing – I realized I was writing again because I wanted to, not because I needed or had to or should.
I wrote my first book in 2000 and published a dozen books in the next eight years. That’s a lot of writing. I burned myself out. And I stopped writing in 2008. I didn’t know if I would ever write again. I no longer enjoyed it. And, I didn’t want to write as a job; its always been a ministry to me. I’ve always felt I was more of a messenger than an author. I had lost my sense of calling. I couldn’t find my love for writing. And, I felt insecure about the responsibility of putting down on paper my beliefs that were in such transition and transformation. But, now, I was genuinely missing the privilege of sharing my journey with others. I sincerely wanted to express my heart and creativity through writing. I felt the loss. But, this time, I also felt sadness at the loss.
I don’t know what happened but a few miles down the road after this revelation, I stopped at a little café for some coffee, reached into my fanny pack for a couple of euros, removed my phone and discovered it was suddenly working again. I couldn’t believe it. I was so grateful. I got a double blessing! I received the gift of trusting with the accompanying lesson and I still got to keep my iPhone.
“Rejoicing in all things” is not just some Biblical platitude. It has legs. Because my phone died and was raised to life again, I write with joy I haven’t had in almost a decade. I almost missed this awareness. Plus, I got to take a whole lot of pictures to share with you, too!
I will be walking to Pamplona tomorrow. I’ve decided to take a day off, stay in a real hotel and catch up on writing. I’ve experienced enough life-change and beauty and grace in the first three days of walking that if I went home today, the trip would have been worth it. I don’t want to take one more step before I celebrate the gift of being able to write it all down and share the highlights with you.