It was a beautiful day of walking across the hot, high plains of Spain. Perfect in every way—except that I was out of water, running a low-grade fever, and feeling homesick on this endless, shadeless stretch of trail.
It wasn’t perfect at all. In fact, it was unsettling and unnerving to be so out of my element, alone. Trying to be brave was exhausting. Even with a map, I wasn’t sure how long it would take to the next town.
This is where we are as a country right now. We’re uncomfortable. We’re disoriented, even as we soldier on.
When I finally arrived in town, I took a long drink of cool water at the plaza fountain. When I told my host I was ill, the kind man said, “Come with me…” and led me to a quiet, empty bunk room.
He pointed to my bed as he opened a window. “The air is good here, and you can rest.” After three hours of fully-clothed, dreamless sleep, I found the energy to visit a pharmacy. The gift in this was not only that I asked for help, and the gentle hospitalero funneled away other pilgrims so I could rest. What kindness.
Here’s the thing: when you’re on a long journey, it can’t be all push. The human heart needs balance—between effort and rest, between moving forward and stopping. This balance keeps weariness and exhaustion at bay.
Like my nap and long drink of water, sleep, food, and connecting with community gives up energy and nourishment. These are especially important when the destination and distance are uncertain.
Some say self care is selfish. I say it’s vital to the path ahead. What are you doing to care for yourself as you journey?