Sunday, January 6, 2008

Walk in a Relaxed Manner

by Joyce Rupp

Started: 20 December 2005
Finished: 14 December 2007

Yes, you read the dates right. I did start this book over two years ago. I have a bad habit of starting books—especially back when I was homeschooling—and then getting sidetracked before finishing them. Since I ‘retired’ from teaching my own children last year, I’ve been much better about completing what I begin—at least so far as books go. I hope this trend lasts.

However, truth be told, I actually started and restarted and re-restarted this book! Not that it isn’t an excellent book—it is! It’s just not what I call a cover-to-cover book, i.e., a book that you easily sit down and read from cover-to-cover. But then it isn’t meant to be.

Walk in a Relaxed Manner is the type of book you read in small bites. I recommend reading one chapter at a time—which is what I finally did the last time I started it, the time I finally finished it.

It was my dear aunt who first suggested I read something by the author Joyce Rupp. Although I’d never heard of her before then, soon I began seeing Sr. Rupp’s books everywhere, especially on the shelves of my favorite religious bookstore. But out of the many books written by this prolific author, I was looking for a title that spoke to me. In the end, it was the cover which drew me to the book—the picture of a woman backpacker hiking in the mountains among the sheep. And perhaps the subtitle also had something to do with my selection, Life Lessons From the Camino.

As stated in numerous previous blog posts I did a pilgrimage last fall. One of the stops was Santiago de Compostela, the destination of all pilgrims along the Camino. The author, Sr. Joyce Rupp hiked the Camino in 2003 with Fr. Tom Pfeffer, now deceased. This book is a collection of short essays or reflections she wrote on the lessons she learned while hiking the Camino. In fact, each chapter is given over to one succinct lesson, e.g., go prepared, live in the now, return a positive for a negative, travel lightly, look for unannounced angels and keep a strong network of prayer to name but a few from the list of twenty-five. Oh! And, there is a chapter specifically devoted to walking in relaxed manner.

In retrospect, even though I did not hike the Camino, this would have been an invaluable book to have read, savored and prayed before I left on my pilgrimage. I regret deeply not having done so! And yet, I did finish it very soon after my trip. Was I able to relate to the author’s mistakes so easily because I had recently returned from my own trip and I recognized myself and my own errors in the author's self-deprecating stories? I wonder. Would I have derived the same benefit from the book if I'd read it before leaving? I like to think so. There’s no way of knowing of course. However, if you do plan on hiking the Camino—especially if it’s for spiritual reasons—I cannot recommend this book too highly.

And as a beautiful spiritual guide, this book is wonderful, uplifting and insightful.


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