June 26, Catedral de Santiago de Compostela
Reaching Santiago was a personal triumph for me.
This Camino was my own spirit or vision quest, a spiritual journey that
allowed me to get inside myself to try and clean house. Trying to get back
to my divine origin. It may indeed be the best thing I have ever done for
All my life, I have tried to grow, develop and become a better human being.
My flaws are glaring, most of all to the people who know me, but sometimes,
occasionally, I get a glimpse of the real me and I’m not particularly proud
of the vestiges of anger, bitterness and negativity that can cling to me.
I still have cancer but know that cancer is something I let in the door. It
lives in stress and poison, anger and fear and although I have done
everything possible physically – surgery, radiation – to kill it, I also
needed to kill the culture in which cancer finds its nourishment.
I try to carry an open heart, generous nature and a joy of life but
underneath the surface, I hide a complete and utter train wreck.
My losses have been profound. I was ethically cleansed; lost my cultural
identity at birth. I’m a born Jew, raised as a Jesuit. I’ve lost everything.
Lost a childhood to abuse, lost a fortune, lost property, lost careers, friends,
lovers, a wife, a fetus, lost money loaned, a house, but mostly I lost myself.
I was a drug addict for 25-years, lived on skid row, lived screaming in a
van for 2-years, had fourteen pancreatitis attacks, bankrupt twice. I’ve been
cheated, swindled, inveigled, lied to by both family and friends and disinherited.
Ontologically, I come from a place where my belief system dictates that in
a more enlightened time of grace, I picked my life’s trajectory so that it
would allow me the opportunity to learn the lessons I needed this time
around. So I do not attach blame to myself or others for the concatenation
of alleged disasters that I have constructed.
I am not a victim.
However, on my first day of walking the Camino, it was immediately
apparent that my choosing this journey was about healing my body and
forgiving myself for all the abuse I had put it through for 65-years.
Within 20-minutes, from the deepest bowels of my physical being, I began a
slow wail that eventually crescendoed to full scale primal screaming. I was
walking completely alone in the cold and rain – no one about – and I let my
body relentlessly grieve, wail, cry, scream, throw itself on the ground. It
began to expiate a lifetime’s worth of pain that I had kept housed in the
deepest part of my being. In a moment of clarity, I knew this was all good
and realized that this was my body’s way – the physical temple that had
carried me all my life and I had abused – to heal. My best days were those
when I barely saw another human being – days that are etched in my memory
like hieroglyphs – where I could become completely primal with releasing
the grief and my pain. This raged for 2-weeks until I was empty; empty of
tears, empty of pain but I knew it was all, fully and irrevocably, gone for
good. Never to return. I was also mysteriously empty of anger, bitterness
and resentment; and by osmosis, I realized that I could replace all that
poison with compassion and love but the first recipient for that goodness
would be me. I could give some love to my body and some compassion to me,
something I had never done before. Ironic since I was pounding my body into
the earth each day carrying an overloaded knapsack mil at a time.
But it was cool. I never walked more than my body allowed and it rewarded
me with thunder thighs and beautifully toned calves.
Today I reach Santiago (St. James in Spanish), grateful for an epic,
life changing and healing journey that does not end but continues from here.
This is my Camino. I thank all of you my friends who tuned in and vocally
or quietly cheered me on, giving me the sustenance, strength and blessing
to see it through.
My heart and spirit are soaring.