It’s the day before we start hiking. I don’t want to go. I’m feeling deep resistance. The only problem, I don’t want to stay in this town anymore. We came to Lourdes, purely because it’s Eric’s Mom’s name, and being a devout Catholic, it was an important place for her. But we never planned on being here for more than a few days. Because initially we planned to start hiking on May 2nd. But then Eric felt like it would actually be better for us to do the things his Mom would have wanted to do in Lourdes on the anniversary of her death. I agreed with him. Then we decided we needed to stay a few days longer so I could finish up some more of my work commitments, as well as do a bit more research about the route we’d be taking, and where we would stay along the way because we’ve been hearing that the gites and alberges book up in advance. In truth, I think we were also both procrastinating – not feeling ready to start.
So here we are, six days since we first arrived in Lourdes, and I don’t want to go, but I don’t want to stay. This town is a tourist trap. Every square inch is filled to the brim with souvenir shops and people looking for a miracle. I feel like I am an outsider invading their space. Like I shouldn’t be here.
Growing up, my Mom never forced religion on us. She wanted my brother and I to make our own choices about our beliefs. I’ve always been very open to other religions and interested in learning about all religious beliefs. I consider myself spiritual, but I don’t yet entirely know what that means for me.
I grew up in a town full of southern Baptists and a lot of the “cool” kids in middle school and high school were part of youth groups. I tended to feel like I could never fit in because I didn’t belong to their group. There were fleeting moments, where I wished I went to church like everyone else so that I could belong. And being here now, in the town, is bringing up some of those same old feelings of not belonging.
I don’t know that I believe in miracles. I think things happen for unexplainable reasons. Whether or not it’s divine intervention, fate, karma, or whatever, shit happens. One thing I’ve learned in life, is that good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. You don’t just get to have good things happen to you because you are good. Sometimes there is no easy way to explain why. But ultimately I think that our choices and our mindsets have more to do with our own outcomes. I don’t think you can wait on a miracle to happen. I think change, requires action. And each of our actions lead to different experiences. The problem is action is hard and we all want easy solutions.
I’ve never prayed a day in my life. I have no problem with people that do. I fully believe “to each, their own.” And as long as someone doesn’t try to push their religion on me, I have no problem with anyone’s religion or religious practices. I think it’s a personal quest that each of us have to figure out on our own.
I’m still trying to figure out what my spiritual beliefs are. I don’t think it is something I can pack neatly into a box and declare, “Well, this is it. This is what I believe.” I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to label my own beliefs. But I do know that right now, I am more open than I’ve ever been to exploring the more unexplainable things of the universe. Whatever that means.
Distance: 11,825 Steps (5.27 miles)
Location: Lourdes, France