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.

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11 thoughts on “Spiritual Warfare

  1. I know this feeling on a small scale. I experienced the syndrome Maria talks about the afternoon I was set to leave for my recent recent. Almost canceled the whole thing at the last minute. I’ll be sure to pray for you while you’re on your pilgrimage. Be safe. Be peaceful. Take all of us with you in spirit! 🙂

  2. Many prayers for you Susan. I am reminded of my friend Claire, who I believe reads your blog, who has been on numerous caminos, and who has had some challenges.

    You remain very much in my prayers. The nagging longing to make a camino is alive in my heart. Right now it seems time, money, and “Sister Ass” (note St. Francis calling his body “Brother Ass”) seem to conspire against me, but my prayer remains focused. If it is ever to be so, it will be so.

    Ultreya indeed – and buen camino!

  3. I just read Exodus 15:2 this morning. “The Lord is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God and I will praise Him; my father’s God and I will extol Him.” May Gods strength be your song and may God defeat the enemy attacking you. Prayers for a blessed journey.

  4. Your toughness (or frailty) is not as significant as God’s intentions, invitation and providence. The possibility of needing to suspend your walk is little compared with God’s initiative and care in ANY eventuality. God will be behind you, aside you, and in front of you — prompting and receiving — every step you put in front of the others. As one who gratefully claims to be your soulmate, may I also observe something about “the enemy of our human nature” — that enemy prefers nothing more than keeping our focus on our efforts, aches, “progress”. Take a page from Pope Francis: keep your focus on the poor, the marginized, the broken of the world. CHRIST is the Camino!

  5. I rejoice for you and your Camino, Susan. My prayers and thoughts will accompany you. The Camino has changed my life and me. It is an incredible experience. I am glad you will have it. May Santiago and la Virgen Peregrina protect you and bless you and walk with you.

    • No, Susan. The Camino de Santiago, specifically, the Camino Francais route from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela.

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