Shells and Tombs

Easter Vigil

Embracing the Journey of Surrender: Lessons from the Way of Saint James

As a priest and a spiritual guide, I’ve had the profound privilege of leading a group of pilgrims on a transformative journey that has left an indelible mark on my heart and faith. Today, I want to share with you the insights and lessons from this pilgrimage, a journey not just through the landscapes of Europe but through the inner terrains of our souls.

The Pilgrimage Begins

In the wake of the World Youth Day celebrations in Sydney in 2008, I embarked on a pilgrimage that would take us through the sacred paths of the Way of Saint James, culminating in the majestic Santiago de Compostela. This wasn’t just a trip; it was a calling. A calling to walk, step by step, along the 330km stretch from Leon to Santiago de Compostela, a journey that would span 15 days and test the limits of our physical and spiritual endurance.

Carrying Our Burdens

Each of us carried a stone, a tangible representation of the burdens we bear in our lives—our fears, our mistakes, our wounds. This stone was a silent companion on our journey, a weight we would eventually lay down at the Cruz de Ferro, the iron cross where countless pilgrims before us had surrendered their own symbols of hardship.

The Symbolism of the Shell

The shell, a ubiquitous emblem of the Camino, became a focal point of reflection. In its lines converging to a single point, I saw the many paths of our lives leading to Jesus, the center of our existence. This shell, often present in the sacrament of baptism, reminded us of our own spiritual journeys and the continuous call to converge towards Christ.

The Tomb of Lazarus: A Place of Surrender

In our discussions, we delved into the powerful imagery of Lazarus’ tomb, as described in Father James Martin’s book. Descending the slippery steps into the darkness of the tomb, we were invited to let go of our burdens, to surrender our dysfunction and resentments. It was in this sacred space that we confronted the uncomfortable truth that to experience resurrection, we must first lay to rest the parts of us that are bound by death.

The Promise of New Life

The tomb is not just a place of death; it is a place of waiting, of stillness, where we can lay down our disappointments and grief. It is here, in the embrace of Jesus, that we find the promise of new life. As a “third day God,” the Lord assures us that our surrender is not in vain, for from the depths of our surrender comes the fullness of life.

The Continuous Invitation

As the pilgrimage concluded, we distributed shells to each other, not just as souvenirs, but as reminders of the journey we are all on—a journey of letting go, of renewing promises, and of making fresh commitments to follow God. This shell is a symbol of our continuous invitation to journey deeper into the grace and freedom that God offers.

In Conclusion: The Heart of Surrender

The essence of our pilgrimage, and indeed of the Christian faith, is found in the act of surrender. It is in letting go that we find true freedom, and it is in dying to ourselves that we find new life in Christ. I invite you, my friends, to consider what burdens you are carrying that need to be laid down at the foot of the cross. Know that you are not alone on this journey, and that the path to resurrection is paved with the stones of surrender.

May we all find the courage to let go, to surrender our burdens, and to rest in the presence of the Lord, trusting in His promise of new life. Let us walk this path together, with shells in hand, hearts open, and spirits willing to embrace the transformative power of surrender.

Play MP3

Scroll to Top