This is a re-post of a blog written by two travelers along the Camino that came across Oasis Trails. It shares a bit of their experience and give another perspective on the previous post we did, giving us the story of the “Jesus Meditation” from a new seat in the circle… from new eyes and ears, allowing us into their experience and take away.
Big thanks to these ladies for being willing to share and let us feature them! If you wish to follow more of these two travelers’ wanders click here!
*We have changed the names of people for their privacy and protection.*
Letters To Pilgrims
“Being a Son and Daughter”
ow to describe these past four days in Villamayor, Spain?
When our bus first pulled up to our stop in Urbiola, Spain, a tall, strawberry-blond Dutch man clamored up the front steps and hollered “HOLA CHICAS!” and waved us off. He introduced himself as J, the manager of the Villamayor Albergue we were visiting. J grabbed ahold of our heavy backpacks, threw them into the back of his van, and all three of us climbed up onto the front bench seat. He showed us around his small village called Luquin. At one point he pulled off the road at the top of a hill and pointed out the village of Villamayor in the distance, small enough for us to see the entirety of from that spot. On the way back down the hill, J told us something that set the foundation for the rest of our time in Villamayor: he said, “We are here to love without an agenda. So much of the time we seek people out in order to tell them something, show them something, get them to believe something. Love them for the sake of loving them and they will experience the love we know through Jesus Christ.”
“We are here to love without an agenda.”
J brought us to the guesthouse, a large, beautiful, old Spanish home, where we’d be staying. The guesthouse is just up the street from the Bouwman’s, and it is a part of their hospitality ministry where friends, family, travelers, and strangers are welcome to come and stay. The first thing we did when we arrived at the guesthouse was help J collect eggs from the chickens—in the process, one of the quails escaped and J had to chase it around the chicken pen (he eventually caught it in midair). I spent the afternoon with J, his wife Amber, and his family by the village pool, talking to them about their call to Villamayor. The story goes: J and his wife visited Villamayor three years ago with nothing but their backpacks and their children; they intended only to volunteer and learn about the Albergue, but turns out, they never left. They felt a clear call to remain there, so after being asked if interested in becoming the managers of this Albergue, they didn’t hesitate to dive right in. They also shared with me their long-time dream to buy the abandoned monastery in their village, Luquin, so that they can turn it into a larger guesthouse—they believe the Holy Spirit has promised it to them by the end of this year which is so, so exciting.
That evening we went to visit the Albergue for the first time! The staff consists of about 6-7 Christian volunteers from all over the world and from all walks of life. During our time here, we worked with Stan (70’s, Australia), JJ (30’s, USA), Alise (60’s, Netherlands), Eliza (70’s, Canada), Joe (30’s, South Korea), Mitch (40’s, Ireland), Rye (30’s, Netherlands). And then there was K and I (20’s). We were given dinner, met the volunteers, and Eliza told us her life story all within the first hour. One awesome thing I learned from Eliza’s story: It doesn’t matter how old you are—you are always being called to go deeper with Christ; He still wants you to dream and ask Him what He has for you (70 year olds feeling called to hostel ministry). Just because you’re younger or older doesn’t mean God is done with you.
J lead our first Jesus Meditation that night. Every night at 8:30pm, after the Pilgrims (travelers) have had dinner and time to settle in, one staff member leads what they call “Jesus Meditation.” All pilgrims are welcomed to gather in the 400 year old stable connected to the Albergue where there is soft carpet and cushions arranged around the room. A soft-lamp light hangs from center of the room, and two pictures of Jesus embracing someone while on the cross are positioned up on the walls. J told the story of a woman who believed that at just the touch of Jesus she would be healed. And after she touched his cloak, J continued to repeat to the room, “and Jesus turned around and looked at her. Jesus turned around. Jesus locked eyes with her. He saw her.” After a half-hour of story, music, and quiet, J served mint tea and placed the giant stable key in the middle of the room and said, “whoever wants to, feel free to take ahold of this key, feel its weight, and share anything that is on your mind and heart.”
One woman from France reached for the key and said, “the word I keep thinking of to describe these past few days is ‘magic.’ These encounters with God, with kindness, with meals and meditation are ‘magic.’”
T, from Israel, then held the key. She began, “so the miracle comes because of faith. There is an order that will not change—faith then miracle, but how can you know the miracle is true before it has happened? That’s why I am on this Camino. I understand it theoretically, but how do you have faith that removes the burdens?” After a time of silence, J said to us all, “you cannot understand or prove everything in a loving relationship. There must be surrender of the heart, not just the mind. This is about relationship, not religion. Surrender to Jesus because of love, not proof.” Once most people headed off to bed, J remained talking with T, embraced her, and prayed Psalm 139 over her, inserting her name into the verses. “Tomorrow when you are walking, T,” he said, “speak to Him like you are speaking to a friend. Words have power. Speaking and praying are acts of faith. Tell Him what’s on your mind, on your heart, and He will be there for you. Relationship is about communication.”
Needless to say, our first night in Villamayor was a powerful one, and I can honestly say each day following meant just as much—ask us about them when we see you next 🙂 there is one more thing I want to share. Stan, a staff member from Australia, said one night, “you can be as close to Jesus as you want to be.” This became the biggest theme of our time in Villamayor for me. There is always more of Jesus to know. Always MORE. We are here to know Him. We can give up our life to know Him because He never runs out—our capacity to grow in closeness to Him is endless. When Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to “‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” He meant it (Matt. 22:37-38). The GREATEST commandment is this—to make Jesus the greatest desire of your heart. It’s really so simple.
Amber said something to me that was a great release for my heart one night, and my prayer is that it will be the same for you for whatever pressure you’re feeling this summer, “Your summer,” she said, “is not about being a leader; it’s about being a daughter.”
Praying for you all,
M & K