Lisa, or a Modern Pilgrim

It’s funny (not in a haha, but in a hmmmm kinda way) how things happen just as they should. Like, for example, on our flight from Chicago to Paris. Headed to the next stop on our non-stop Gypsy Summer, we spent some up-in-the-air time with a modern day pilgrim. Her name is Lisa Sawyer, a middle-aged mother, wife and self-described hermit from Reno on her way to the way of her life, more specifically the Way of St James.

She was a demure woman with a shy spirit, but when I spoke to her, her excitement was effervescent. A cross between Lisa Loeb and Renee Zellweger, she describes herself as a person who curdles the air when she walks into a room. A person who has chosen to hide herself from society and sink into the walls of the world. But now, at this moment, Lisa was on her  way to 45-days along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the thousand year old journey that begins in Saint Jean Pied de Port in France and ends some 800km later in the city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia Province near the northwestern coast of Spain.

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She will travel this journey on foot, as is tradition. Once a path followed exclusively by Christians, the Camino has become a modern-day pilgrimage taken by travelers from all over the world in their spiritual search. The road may be the same for all, but each journey is uniquely personal.

When I heard of the purpose for her travels, I immediately thought, “Why is she doing this? What are her reasons?” Lisa didn’t offer her reasons, she only shared that her husband was adamantly supportive and that her mother was not. So much not that they were not on speaking terms when she left Reno. But for one of the first times in my life, I didn’t probe her. I simply wished her safe travels and watched her walk the other direction once we arrived at Charles de Gaulle at 9:00am on a Monday morning in mid-July.

A few nights later, I visited her blog, which was scrawled into my small black notebook. It was there that I learned about her first night in Paris when she met a Boris Yeltsin looking fellow twice in one day and answers in the form of a letter she wrote to her mother, both to thank her for a tomato slicer and explain the reasons her journey at this time in her life.

The answers mirrored, in many ways, the changes that have taken place in my own life over the past few months. But the cord that struck me most was her expressed need to abandon the outdated security of past constructs on a quest for something more – more profound, more true. A quest for a new path, one that takes a courageous leap of faith and one that others simply don’t understand.

So like I said, it’s funny how people are placed in your path just when they should. Sometimes it is so you can offer them the reassurance that they are doing the right thing and at other times so that they can do the same for you.

Bon chance, Lisa. Your mother will understand only when she is ready and may the road bring you the answers you seek and at last, ease the loneliness in your heart.

If you are interested in following Lisa’s journey, she will be updating her progress and encounters her Soul Strider Blog.


2 Comments on “Lisa, or a Modern Pilgrim”

  1. Maria C. Gracia says:

    Life is truly wonderful and surprising, to say the least. How it is always meant to be that we meet or cross paths with people that have similarities with us. I’m glad you met Lisa. The journey that she is making is wonderful. Big René and I have talked about doing the walk to Compostela.
    I enjoyed reading your Blog. 🙂

  2. just a girl says:

    I have wanted to conquer the Camino de Santiago de Compostela…I love the idea of having time to think about life, abandoning those materialistic items that fill my apartment and accomplishing something that is beyond my comprehension and succeeding.

    Hope Lisa finds her way!

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