* Dr. David Miller (center) together with our dear pilgrims.
Dr. David Miller, a wonderful Pilgrim who accompanied us on the Ignatian Camino in September 2017, was so moved by his trip that he will now be a permanent and very important part of this very meaningful journey. Acting as a spiritual advisor to our Pilgrims, he will be guiding them through St. Ignatius’ most important work “The Spiritual Excercises”. He will help them achieve a deeper level of understanding and will assist them with meetings and conversations on the spiritual meaning of this journey as they make their way along northern Spain following in the footsteps of the Saint from Loyola to Manresa. He has been kind enough to share his impressions on his 2017 Ignatian Camino, so that you can get a small glimpse into the beauty and wonder that awaits when you walk this path.
Walking into freedom
By Dr. David L. Miller
I will never forget the first day of the Ignatian Camino. Laughter at the sheer joy of walking and feeling free bubbled from deep in my heart. We started together as a group, but I walked alone for a long time lest someone think I had lost my mind as I sang and shouted and spoke to God, laughing in gratitude for the cobalt sky above, filled with the elation of being on pilgrimage, in Spain, walking where Ignatius walked.
My feet fairly flew along as my heart soared to the tops of green mountains, thick with forest, rivulets of water trickling down the verdant mountain sides, finding their way to the Urola River that snaked along the path. We crossed the stream a dozen times or more that first day, passing waterfalls, hiking through abandoned railway tunnels and small villages, always keeping our eyes open for orange arrows painted on rocks and trees that pointed the way of Ignatius.
Dr. David Miller along the Ignatian Camino.
I had not felt greater joy and freedom of spirit in years as on that first day of the Camino … and all the days that followed. A smile wakened within me, one I knew was there, but which had been buried beneath the stress of life, unanswered questions about the future and the tyranny of urgent tasks that called for my attention each day in the office.
Some days took us through green mountains, others through fields and farms. There were days of hard climbs up mountain paths where both the climb and the scenery took our breath away. The fragrance of soil and ripe, red grapes, ready for harvest, filled our senses as we walked for days through vineyards in the Rioja region. And then there was the glory of Montserrat, a great and soul-stirring reward near the end of our journey.
The Ignatian Camino is an experience of freedom, the spiritual freedom that comes when … like Ignatius … the physical journey leads you deeper into your own spirit to notice what is there. As you walk, the noise of your busy mind falls away and your heart is revealed to you-your strength and need, your joy and pain, your deepest desires for love and freedom … and healing, too.
You feel connected heart-to-heart with the Divine Spirit who is as close as the movements of your own heart and mind, speaking there when we give ourselves time and space e to listen. This is central to the Ignatian vision. Walking his way, you begin to notice a great love stirring within, a love that invites you to enter the freedom of being who you truly are.
Dr. David Miller, Jesuit Communications Philippines group (@Jescomph), and Marly.
There is so much to tell you about the Ignatian Camino-the beauty of the land, the hospitality of the people, the warm conversations you share with those who walk beside you, the joy of stopping for coffee and wine in village plazas along way. I will share other reflections in weeks to come.
But I cannot end this note without telling you about the amazing staff at Marly Camino. They arrange everything for you so you can focus on your pilgrimage. Their attention to detail is stellar. And to a person, they exude a beautiful hospitality and enthusiasm to share their joy in making your Camino a meaningful experience.
I hope you will walk the Ignatian way with me this autumn! I long to share it with you. See you in September. Buen Camino!
About Dr. David L. Miller:
Dr. David L. Miller is a pastor, spiritual director, retreat leader, editor and author of hundreds of articles about Christian spirituality and reports from his travels to some of the world’s most troubled places, such as Somalia, Sudan and the Middle East. He has studied Ignatian Spirituality at Loyola University, Chicago, IL, USA, and served as the Director of Spiritual Formation and Dean of the Chapel at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. As a spiritual director, he is experienced in directing retreatants through the ‘retreat in daily life, according to the 18th and 19th annotations of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola.
Take a look at the Ignatian Camino.