One will be known: Thoughts after 200 miles

Shortly before starting out on my Camino, I had dinner with former colleagues from the Asia Society, where I worked before coming to Episcopal Relief & Development.  It was hard to leave that job and the people I supervised.  I consoled myself with the idea that now that I didn’t have to be their boss anymore, we could be friends.  Indeed, we have become good friends and remain so.

As it happened, one of these friends was herself going to be walking part of the Camino about a week ahead of me.  We lamented that we weren’t going to overlap.  I left it at that.  To my surprise, delight, and amazement, she very sweetly left me welcome messages at several stops on the Camino with her reflections and recommendations.  

As it happens, I am walking the Camino with a friend and colleague from the Anglican Board of Mission in Australia.  We’ve travelled together in our professional capacity many times.  As a result, we have developed an easy rapport that permits us each to walk in silence for hours on end and then to unwind over a couple of beers at the end of the day commiserating and sharing observations on the walk and some of the quirks of our fellow pilgrims as we plan for the next day.

I am deeply ambivalent about social media.  However, it is permitting me to share this experience with people who have known me for my entire life.  From my family to friends from all chapters of my life, acquaintances, and colleagues across The Episcopal Church.

My closest friend from high school likes almost every one of my posts.  It’s a small thing, and I’m surprised by how touched I am that he’s even watching.  Another friend, who I have known since we were students in China together 40 years ago, almost never fails to offer encouraging words.  Those are just small examples of the connections too numerous to count sustaining me through InstagramFacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.  Keep those likes coming!  I do see them and they encourage me.

I don’t think of myself as a particularly social person. I’m a bit of a loner and keep myself to myself.  Some of that is just my nature.  Some of it comes from feeling safest and happiest with clear and healthy relationship boundaries.  At the same time, it can sometimes leave me with a pervasive and underlying sense of aloneness. 

This summer my wife and I went to the Shaw Festival in Canada and saw Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ play, Everybody.  We liked it so much we saw it twice.  In the final scene where “Everybody” is led to their death, the only thing that goes with them is love—nothing else in life abides.  I was moved to tears each time we saw the play.

Now, as I enter what is likely the final third of this life on earth, I am realizing that despite the aloneness that I experience on a superficial level day-to-day, I have deep and lasting friendships from all chapters of my life so far.  All any one of us will have at the end of our lives is the love of those friendships.  What a gift. 

I need to pay more attention to those relationships. It is through them (as Christopher Idle writes in his hymn about the Three Magi’s pilgrimage) that one is known.

Thank you to everyone who has generously supported my walk with a gift to Episcopal Relief & Development.  If you haven’t yet done so and would like to make a donation, you can do so by clicking “Support my Journey!”

progress bars for fundraising (63,614/75k) and walking (210.3/500 mi)

Published by Rob Radtke

President & CEO, Episcopal Relief & Development, husband, father, friend, traveler, reader, New Yorker.

2 thoughts on “One will be known: Thoughts after 200 miles

  1. Rob, What a great post! Deeply personal and deeply intelligent (which I guess describes you generally as well). Thank you. Robert


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