Archive for category Thy Camino

THY CAMINO: Gratitude II


The Walk Before Us – A Step at a Time on the Camino de Santiago 

I neglected to include one person to whom I very recently expressed my gratitude. It seems as though I was walking along the other day on the Camino (listening to my iPod) when I followed the path (which appeared very similar to the way marked trail) in a wrong direction, deep into some farmer’s fields of young growing wheat. After some 30 minutes or so I noticed a farmer on his tractor coming towards me. I waived a hello and moved out of the way. The tractor stopped. I glanced above. The farmer was gesturing that I had gotten off the Camino as he pointed to a point that was a considerable distance back. There was little for me to do but retrace my steps when the farmer tapped on the tractor and motioned for me to jump on. He took me all the way back to where the trail split. Thirty minutes later I came into Granon where my Italian friends were having lunch. They invited me to join them as they explained how they waved and yelled and whistled to me when they saw me going astray. But with earphones I heard nothing.

My tractor ride will forever be part of my Camino experience and I will forever be grateful to my Spanish farmer friend for giving me that ride.




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THY CAMINO: Gratitude & Contentment – Eric Liddell and Carmen on the Camino


The Walk Before Us – A Step at a Time on the Camino de Santiago 

This is the type of post under Thy Will I had intended to do sooner and more frequently. That said, better late than never. Hopefully, I will have time for more as planned.

Today, people walk the Camino for different reasons. This has been confirmed to me many times over as I have met pilgrims from Denmark, Australia, Poland, Ireland, Korea, Brazil and numerous other places. Interestingly, a fairly common reason (usually among other feasons) is to give thanks in some way for their lives, or as a Christian (and perhaps others) might say, for the blessings of their life.

This past week was “Staff Appreciation” week at our law firm, LeClairRyan. In a very real sense it was all about gratitude. In the same or similar vein as pilgrims along the Camino. For my purposes here, I note that the expressions of gratitude by a few of my partners were not some generalized statements of being thankful, but their sincere expressions were directed towards someone – here, the non-lawyers at the firm that help make us who we are and help us provide the kind of service critical to our mission and our success.

Coincidentally (for those who have read posts here before – I remind you of what C. S. Lewis said about coincidences), this very topic of being grateful came up as I walked many kilometers of the Meseta in northern Spain. As I left Burgos in the predawn light I ran junto Carmen, a 25year-old Spanish woman put on the Camino, as we tried to read the way markings out of the city. I walked a long day with Carmen and learned much about her and life in Spain. I was mostly taken and touched by her perspective – “I may have been unemployed for 3 years but I’m more blessed than most.” She continued, “I’m rich in so many things – I live in a wonderful community, I have a roof over my head and I have a wonderful family.” Even though Spain was continuing to suffer from a sagging economy and opportunities for her were few, she was content, happy, and comfortable that life would be fine.

I couldn’t help but recall a great scene from Chariots of Fire when Harold Abrahams looks at Eric Liddell and laments that – unlike Liddell – he had never been content. As he said, “when the gun goes off, I have 10 seconds to prove myself.” He lacked contentment because his hope, his sense of value was based upon his personal achievement.

For most then, it’s hard to have a sense of gratitude, if you are not content. You are always looking for something more. You are always wondering why some have more than you or some have achieved more – whether it be recognition or material success. My observations suggest that the inability to be content with whatever you have or with wherever you are is a function of where you place your hope – where you – like Harold Abrahams – place your sense of worth.

This then is prelude for my own thoughts about gratitude. Yes, I many “peregrines” I thought that time of the Camino would give me the generally uninterrupted time to consider seriously those things for which I have grateful – and make appropriate notation thereof.

When I think back on my first 55 years, I have an enormous list of people for whom I am grateful. Many would suggest that I have “succeeded” in life – however you may define that. I have had a successful professional career, I have achieved some things outside of the work environment, I have some great friends, and I have an extraordinary wife and children. So how do I assess that “success”? If I were to focus on MY WILL I’d say that I pulled myself by my own bootstraps. That I worked hard and that I created opportunities for myself and by the dint of my smarts and hard work I became a successful – all glory and honor to me.

But, I now know that that is not true. Rather, I am exceedingly aware of an extraordinary number of people that helped me become the “success” that I may have achieved. I touched on this in my book The Race Before Us, but allow me to expand. Whatever I have achieved, whatever people point to and suggest that I have “succeeded,” I now know was the work of many people, and inevitably the grace of a God. So, when I take the time to carefully think about how I have been so blessed beyond measure, I recognize that a great number of people did a great number of things to get me to where I am today. When I think back upon it I have to acknowledge that I am grateful for –

– my parents, who communicated and inculcated values
– my patents, who sacrificed so I could attend college
– Judge Shelley, who served as my first professional mentor, and encouraged others to take a chance on a brash northerner
– Butch and Burt, who thought I might be a reasonable associate
– Tom, who provided an extraordinary amount of wisdom in two years, lessons from which I have repeated for almost 30 years
– Tom and Slate, who thought I might be able to contribute to a new practice team at a marquis law firm
– Bonnie, who worked tirelessly for many years to see that my work product was complete and first rate
– Stan and Frank, who thought I might be able to stand on my own two feet and develop a practice
– Stan and Gary, who took in as a partner a cocky 35 year-old who thought he could conquer the world
– Bill, who advanced our practice and supported my ego, while showing me true intellect and true humility
– Vern for stepping up whenever I needed support
– Chris and Kirk and Bill and Mike and Brandy for handling matters better than I could
– Kim, who handled so many matters and otherwise covered for me
– Rob, who has consistently made me look better than I am
– Jeff, who asked me to be co-counsel, who always trusted me as co-counsel, and who supported me as a candidate for the most important professional role in my career
– Carl and Mike, who have been along side (with extraordinary patience) for most of the journey
– John, Wally, Giff, Ned, and Kevin, who have provided me with more fun and camaraderie for which anyone could ask

And I am grateful to those other friends, acquaintances, and colleagues who I have failed to mention.

And, of course, I am eternally grateful for an extraordinary wife, for whom I’m sure I could have been a better husband. Thankfully, With God’s grace, I will have many years to try to make that right.

So, when I think about THY WILL, I’d like to think that I have been blessed beyond measure, not because what I have done, but because what He has done. Like our law firm, we are not happy or thankful or grateful in a vacuum, we are grateful to people. Likewise, when I look back on 55 pretty good years, I’d like to think that I am grateful, but it too is not some generalized, unspecific sense – but a recognition that I have been blessed by God beyond measure by wonderful parents, an incredible family, generous colleagues and great friends. Why – I have no idea, but I still have a few weeks on the Camino. X





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Thy Camino: The Walk Before Us III


The Walk Before Us – A Step at a Time on the Camino de Santiago 

This will be my last “introductory” or general post about “Thy Camino,” which I guess is good since I’m already over two weeks into the trip. Hopefully, there will be more specific and more frequent “Thy Camino” posts as well as the more “travelogue” – My Camino posts.

With Easter still a near memory, it is useful to look at the most important reference concerning our obligation to follow “Thy Will”. It was of course in the garden (on the eve of his crucifixion that Jesus said: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

The other important and obvious (so obvious I wonder how often I said it and did not take to heart what it really means) reference to “Thy Will” is in the “Lord’s Prayer.” Jesus said: Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be down.

If you are a Christian, every time you repeat the Lords Prayer you are acknowledging that your plans (“My Will”) are secondary. For me, one of the “epiphanies” for me in analyzing issues of faith was realizing how much MY PLANS and my objectives had overwhelmed or suppress what might be God’s Will – God’s plan for me.

As I’ve indicated before, once someone comes to faith, the task “set before them” is how to live more as a disciple – how is it that conform our lives, how is it that we have been changed? I have written earlier (during my time in Oxford) about how coming to faith really involves – not a “blind leap,” but the placing of trust in something (someone) you have acknowledged to be real and true. The premise of the blog then is that a Christian has already chosen between “My Will” and “Thy Will” when they believed in (“who shall ever believe”) accepted Jesus (when they “trusted”). It seems to me that by definition that if you have come to faith – come to trust – you have acknowledged that God’s will (“Thy Will”) is primary and paramount, but the task (“the race before us”) – the very hard job – for each of us is (1) to discern God’s will and (2) to follow Thy Will.

While perhaps I will spend some time on discernment, the major point here, the “final” introductory” point, is that we actively resist Thy Will – rather, we are so confident in our own abilities or we are so driven to our personal desires and objectives that we ignore or suppress Gods will. The process we need to go through – a major topic of my thoughts along the Camino – is how to more regularly and more automatically look for Thy Will and at the same time recognized that My Will may be focused on more personal or selfish agendas, if not the pursuit of other idols ( in my book The Race Before Us, one way to look at the three “Ps” was to see them as false idols.

Not to lose heart though – the process (a fancy word might be “sanctification”) takes time, which is why Paul used the race metaphor so much. He knew we would slip and fall (when “My Will” takes over) and that we would have to get up and “press on.” In fact, we are never likely to win the race, but we hope that when the race is over, we are greeted by “well done, good and faithful servant.”










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Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!

But the pains which He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation hath procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s king, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!

Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
Praise eternal as His love, Alleluia!
Praise Him, all you heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia!









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One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”


Note: I saw this sculpture on the side of the Church of Santa Maria in Viana, Spain – a town I stayed in and walked through on the Camino de Santiago. I was notable because it is rare that I have seen such artwork of the crucifixion where Jesus is presented with the robbers to either side. It thus reminded me of one of the most encouraging and one of my favorite lines of scripture — “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”>

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THY CAMINO: The Walk Before Us

MY CAMINO - THY CAMINO:  The Camino de Santiago and The Walk Before Us

MY CAMINO – THY CAMINO: The Camino de Santiago and The Walk Before Us

NOTE:  Some logistics on the Camino have caused me to get behind. For that I apologize. For those following or checking in, thank you for your interest in my journey.  I hope to post a number of items over the next few days to “catch-up.”  More photographs are available at my Facebook page. Please “friend” me if you’d like to see those and future uploads of photographs (it’s easier to post multiple photos to Facebook).


Well I left my happy home to see what I could find out
I left my folk and friends with the aim to clear my mind out
Well I hit the rowdy road and many kinds I met there
Many stories told me of the way to get there

So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out
There’s so much left to know, and I’m on the road to find out.

Because this is a “Thy Camino” post, I will share some thoughts about the trip from a spiritual point of view. Although historically people traveling the Camino had essentially only a spiritual or religious reason to do so. I had a number of reasons for undertaking this journey, but for our purposes here, walking the Camino de Santiago might be referred to as The Race Before Us II – hence, “the walk before us.”

The Race Before Us, of course, was my “journey of running and faith.”  The “journey of faith” though, for those not familiar, is a journey TO faith – a journey of understanding and accepting the truth of Christianity.  Those familiar with Paul’s use of the running or “race” metaphor know that the “Christian race” is really a “race” of trying to become more like Christ with each step we take – in that sense, the “race” is our walk with Jesus.  In still other words, it is the process of becoming a disciple – or,  it is the process of sanctification. This process – this effort at attempting to live our lives more and more (with each “step”) is in effect our journey OF faith.  In this very real sense, the “race” is everyone’s race.  We will hear one day – “well done, good and faithful servant”?


For many modern “pilgrims” then the Camino is – as Cat Stevens wrote – the “road to find out” – a journey to learn more about themselves and the big questions of life.  For me, it is an opportunity to focus for a concentrated period of time on the journey OF faith (since my journey TO faith is complete, as recorded in The Race Before Us).

Future posts, therefore, about “Thy Camino” will attempt to make observations on this journey of discipleship – on this walk with Jesus and, hence, on the “walk before us.”

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MY CAMINO - THY CAMINO:  The Camino de Santiago and The Walk Before Us

MY CAMINO – THY CAMINO: The Camino de Santiago and The Walk Before Us

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.    – C.S. Lewis


As we mentioned in our last post, The Race Before Us is “going on the road” – actually, going on the “camino” – the Camino de Santiago.  Despite the travels and the long walk, Bruce will be blogging here at The Race Before Us under the following, temporary subtitle:  MY CAMINO- THY CAMINO: The Camino de Santiago & The Walk Before Us.  (More on the title and subtitle  soon.)  Walking the Camino de Santiago was historically a religious pilgrimage for Christians.  Today it remains that for many, but others have different, but often related, motivations. (More on that later also.)


MY CAMINO – THY CAMINO:  The Camino de Santiago & The Walk Before Us 

My good friend, golfing buddy, and fellow Lutheran John likes to kid me by noting that whenever I teach class at Sunday School I somehow reduce everything to the expression – “My Will or Thy Will.”  While it’s far from my idea, there is a reason for the repetition or emphasis.  It is a useful quip because it expresses perhaps the most profound truth of the Christian faith.  In fact, the ideas embedded in the pithy phrase express both the most central issue in the story of man’s relationship to God and the most imposing barrier to repairing what is wrong with the world. These modest questions then will serve as the basis for the more thoughtful of my blog posts as I wander down the road.

The title for this post, therefore, comes from the C.S. Lewis quotation above from his book The Great Divorce.  More on this in a later post, but the concept expressed by the “My Will or Thy Will” quip is that man refuses – that we as human beings refuse – to humble ourselves in obedience to God (to God’s will), but we try to achieve our own salvation by doing everything, as Sinatra sang, his own way (our will).

My Camino – Thy Camino.  The Camino de Santiago (or, more precisely, the modern-day “Camino Frances” – the French Way) is a 500-mile walk, so we are not likely to write much about running over the next few weeks, but I will describe the walk itself and the scenes and experiences along the way.  The trip will also provide a wonderful opportunity for introspection and for writing on issues of faith.  Thus, borrowing a theme from the book, The Race Before Us, during our sojourn in Spain, each post will be either about (i) the physical journey (about the walk itself and the sights along the way – a bit like a travelogue)  or (ii) the faith or spiritual aspects of the journey (musings about the big questions of life – origin, meaning, morality & destiny – in the context of a Christian worldview).

To emphasize this plan to alternate between the physical and the spiritual, the travelogue or “physical” posts will be denominated by “My Camino” (such as “My Camino I: Climbing Over the Pyrenees”) and the philosophical or “spiritual” posts will be denominated by  “Thy Camino” (such as, “Thy Camino I: Sin, Repentance & Pilgrimage”).   And, where I can combine the physical journey with the spiritual journey (where I can, if you will, combine the “walk” with the “talk”), the post will be denominated as “My Camino – Thy Camino.”

DISCLAIMER:  You have been warned.  If you want to follow the journey, but do not want to be troubled by the more philosophical musings, read the “My Camino” posts as I write about what its like to walk twenty miles in the rain, or cram into a “pilgrim hostel”, or understand where Rioja wine comes from, or visit a 12th century cathedral, or walk through the beauty of spring on the Spanish meseta; and ignore the “Thy Camino” posts as I wonder about things like humility, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, salvation, purpose, and other challenging thoughts.  To be clear (if not redundant), unless you are interested in exploring questions of doubt and faith and truth, stay away from “Thy Camino” – or else you may never be the same again.  Stated differently, if you have satisfied yourself that God does not exist, you will not want to have your confidence in that conclusion shaken by some of my musings here.

Look for the photograph above as a reminder that the post is about the Camino — about “My Camino – Thy Camino”.  I will provide other photographs in the body or at the end of most posts as we progress across northern Spain and head for Santiago and the “end of the earth,”

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