Dear Britton.

In a little more than 10 weeks we depart for France and Spain! There is plenty of time yet to fine tune your pack to less than 18 pounds. At 15 years old and in shape from football, wrestling, and now lacrosse, you may not need to train for the 525-mile hike, but I do. There is, however, an important task that you should start to consider:

At the highest point (4,940 feet) on the French Route of the Camino de Santiago is a house-sized pile of stones sprouting an overlarge telephone pole that is capped with a small iron cross. This is known as the Cruz de Ferro (the Iron Cross).

Tradition holds that pilgrims on the Camino carry a small stone along the journey and in prayerful meditation deposit the stone at the foot of this cross.

The stone represents one or more of the little burdens we unconsciously accumulate in life. These are not the big intentional obligations such as education, work, family, or finances, but the smaller ones that we gather without thought. Anger, resentment, envy, jealousy, to name just a few.

At 15 years old you have few of these weighing you down. At 72 years old, I have collected a truckload!

Just as we are called to be mindful of these hidden burdens while walking the Camino, so should we each seek a stone that resonates with us, a metaphor of those burdens which weigh down the spirit.

The stone should be small, barely noticeable in your pack, just like the troubles we unconsciously carry. But consider the emotional weight during our lives. There are over one million strides taken along the Camino. If the stone you select weighs only 2 ounces, then that insignificant weight carried each step of “The Way” represents over 125,000 pounds!

The stone should be attractive in a way that makes it not easy to abandon, even though it is just a rock. Similarly, we convince ourselves that we are justified in our anger, resentments, spite. It is a human failing, an uncomfortable acknowledgement, that we are responsible for our own feelings. Justified or not, we are not benefited by harboring these sentiments, yet it is difficult to let them go.

Good luck in your hunt for that special stone, and for the deeper search for the peace that comes from the release of the burdens that it represents.

Love, Grandpa.

PS. The prayerful meditation at the foot of the Cruz de Ferro often takes form in these words:

“Lord, may this stone, a symbol of my efforts on the Pilgrimage that I lay at the foot of the Savior’s cross, one day weigh the balance in favor of my good deeds when the deeds of my life are judged. Let it be so, Amen.”


25 thoughts on “Burdens Cast in Stone

  1. Marga Rita Buenavestida says:

    May all your burdens be released along the Way, allowing only freedom to live and create and serve and learn. And, oh yeah, don’t release your spork too early.

  2. So enjoyed this posting. Beautifully said. It makes me reflect on the burdens of disruptive sentiments and the benefit of discarding those harsh feelings.

  3. If only there were a similar place close to home that we could deposit our resentments. I truly believe we can in our minds with out a particular place if only we would.

  4. Altho I have never been, the Cruz has always meant so much to me that I have my own in my garden where I have placed stones as needed. I look fwd to reading your thoughts along your “Way”! Buen Camino!!

  5. So many thoughts come to me about the Cruz de Fero …having been there twice. Each time as significant as the other. Peter I just love the letter that you wrote for Britton, and all of us. Rather than turn this note into a tome – I will repeat and adage from a gentleman I know that has such a knack with words, can skillfully turn a phrase and paint pictures with words: “Be Good, Do Good, Live Long and Prosper.” Britton if you can live by those words, the rocks you carry will be few! Buen Camino!!

What Do You Think?