Starting at the beginning

| Alyssa Bormes | April 14, 2016 | 0 Comments

It used to be that I only had seven siblings, but then my widowed mother married a widower, and nine more siblings became a part of it. Brenda is Jim’s oldest, and I am Karol’s youngest. We had only met two times when we decided to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, which is a 500-mile trek across northern Spain, ending at the resting place of St. James the Greater’s relics. We will be leaving this summer.

The good news is that Brenda and I have met a few more times since. Once was on the final pilgrimage of my mother’s life, which was last year in Rome. None of us knew how close she was to death except Jesus. Looking back, the whole trip was a gift from him to her, and the rest of us were able to bask in the graces. We met again at her funeral, just a few weeks after returning from Rome.

Just this Easter, Brenda and I met for the fifth time as we both traveled home to see her dad, who is my stepdad, Jim. We have taken many walks as a part of our training, each morning walking to Mass. Our first walk together was on Easter Monday.

Brenda asked if I had been baptized at that day’s destination, St. Mary in Aberdeen, S.D. Yes, I had. So had Brenda. We set that thought aside and chatted about other things as we walked the rest of the way.

During Mass, it dawned on me that we were on our first day of training together for the Camino, and we were at the place we were each baptized. After Mass I told Brenda that this was the best possible place to begin our journey — where our journey began in the first place, the place of our baptism. We both had that moment when you ponder something, take a deep breath and smile.

Father Mark Axtmann had celebrated Mass; we told him of our pilgrimage and of our baptisms. His voice had that knowing tone: “This is the perfect place to begin your journey.” He gave us a blessing for pilgrims. We had begun.

The following day, my godmother was at the daily Mass. We, too, took a picture together at the font. It was another of those moments.

One of the days when we were walking, we spoke about the font and the providence of beginning there. After a silence, I asked Brenda if she thought when our parents had us baptized that they had dreamed of this — the nine and eight children becoming 17 at the marriage of Jim and Karol, and the two of us, and the Camino? We both had the moment of “hmmmm.”

Of course this wasn’t their dream. It is too wild of a dream. But Jim and Margie, and Bill and Karol, all had the same prayer: that their children would live in union with holy mother Church. And, that life could send us on a million journeys and pilgrimages, and even some dark alleys, but they always desired us to come home ­— even if it meant starting at the beginning — right at that baptismal font.

Bormes, a member of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, is the author of the book “The Catechism of Hockey.”

Tags: , ,

Category: Everyday Mercies