Post Via Entry – Transitions

Well, this will be the final entry for this Via Francigena vlog.

We arrived home to a re-filled fridge, clean house, trimmed trees and bushes, and a cool welcome home banner. Do we have amazing family and friends or what!! Honestly it was wonderful.

The reunion with our kids and grandchild was fantastic as you might imagine. In the weeks since we’ve been home we’ve also welcomed a new grandchild into the world. Exciting!

Being away for so long made the differences in our lifestyle on Pilgrimage and at home all the more striking. On Pilgrimage life is beautifully simple. You have few to no possessions, and as importantly, few decisions to make. You just kind of exist walking from place to place and looking for lodging and food.

Admittedly it’s all a little artificial. We are able to live this way on pilgrimage because we have built the resources at home through our work. While it would be possible to walk relying only on charity, it is clearly not what we have done.

The first of two things that struck me after our arrival home however was how ridiculously HUGE our home is. I’ve never felt guilty or uncomfortable with that. It’s the norm in America. But it is so unnecessary and for the first time I noticed all the empty, hollow, and unused space we have.

The second thing was funnier. I went to make an early morning breakfast our first morning home and I couldn’t where we stored our plates and cups. I searched a few cabinets before it all came back to me. We’ve been in so many places over the last 3 months that I’d completely dropped our particular arrangement out of my long term memory. Strange.

Back at work 3 days later I found the transition easy and quiet. This was partially the result of our I.T. Department assuming I’d left for good. All my systems and accesses had been shut down and removed. Indeed, my iPhone contacts (even my personal ones) had been wiped from my device. It took over two weeks to get fully back up and running.

But reintroductions were fun. I’d join a videoconference and there’d be the moment of silence when someone would interrupt the meeting to say “What! Is that Mark?” It was nice to catch up with folks and meet some new people that had joined our team while I was away.

The introductions still occur a few weeks after we’ve returned but they are becoming rare. I’m “back” and life is moving on.

Last weekend marked our first walk/hike since we left the US. It was a short 5mi walk in a local park, but the Autumn leaf change is in full color and the weather nice. It was beautiful.

But I miss the pilgrimage – I must admit. It’s a hard life at times, but the friendliness of most people you meet is so refreshing. In a world where our politicians and the news/media seem intent on setting us against each other, real people are generally helpful, nice and kind.

In addition to simplicity there is a freedom on pilgrimage. You can go fast or slow, be alone or with others. You can eat whatever you want guilt-free and become healthier at the same time. You are exercising and are tired in the evenings just like you should be. Each meal gives you energy and doesn’t leave you overstuffed and tired. You sleep MUCH better.

It’s a wonderful thing. I can’t wait to start again.