Spiritual Warfare

I’ve been fascinated by my experience over the last two weeks, as I count down toward my departure for my Camino walk.

Starting about a week ago Monday, I’ve experienced the pain of pretty much every injury, illness or pain I’ve experienced over the last several years. For two days my right forearm ached miserably. (I had tendonitis in that area two years ago.) Then I had several days of terrible aching of my left shoulder. (I had a rotator problem that arose about a year ago.) In between that, I had several mornings where I woke up with stiffness in the last two digits of my left hand. (Something I had complained about to my doctor during my last physical, but which had disappeared.) The other night I woke up with a bad toothache. My right achilles (the last body area on which I had physical therapy) has been giving me almost constant, although thankfully low-level, pain. Most recently, I woke up in the middle of the night with excruciating nerve pain in my left leg (past sciatica). I think there may be a few more I’ve left out.

I know none of these are re-injuries, since the pain comes for a couple of days and then departs. So the only label I have is Ignatius’ enemy spirit. Whatever name you give it – enemy spirit, spiritual warfare, it is the negative force that calls out, “You can’t do this. You can’t do this. Might as well not try.” My dear friend Maria calls it “the same syndrome as when you decide to go on retreat and have a terrible, shitty week leading up to it that makes you want to sulk and stay home.”

Well, I’m tougher than that. There is only one response: mindfully put one foot in front of the other. And trust.

That, I recognize, is no guarantee one of these past injuries won’t arise for real on the Camino, perhaps one great enough to cause me to have to suspend my walk. But I’ll face that possibility if and when I come to it. For now, it is one foot in front of the other.