Where in the world are we?
Throughout the trip, we will be updating this blog with our location. Our precise location. Our really, really precise location. So precise, in fact, that the four of us might be in the same room, and have different locations to report.
How do we do this? I’m glad you asked…
What3Words.com (Henceforth to be known as “W3W”) is a website and free app for both iOS and Android that uses mapping software to section the entire surface of the planet into 3×3 meter squares and assigns each of them a name of three random, unrelated English words.
That means there are 57 trillion unique addresses on planet Earth. Using the app, our phones can tell us precisely where we are. Once we know our W3W words each day, we’ll include them in our posts at significant locations and you’ll know where we are, too. You’ll be able to click the link and see our location on a Google Map.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the W3W that is the precise location of my desk in my office at Sacred Heart in La Plata. So keep in mind, we have no control over the words assigned to our location. 57 trillion, remember? That said, these are the words that correspond to my very desk at Sacred Heart.
1 – “Cushioned” certainly makes sense. I have a comfy chair here in my office. It reclines, it has nice arm rests. My shoes are cushioned, too. My car has cushioned seats and an air conditioner to “cushion” me against the heat. Even the deacon’s chair in the sanctuary has a cushion on it. We always try to include some level of cushioning between us and what is harsh and difficult. But getting too used to being cushioned makes us too dependent on it.
One important stage in the planning of the Camino is to carefully decide what items to bring and which to leave behind. Everything must be carried on our backs, so we have to take only what we really need. We actually weigh our bags, remove some items, then weigh it again, over and over again until we get it right. It’s a suitable metaphor for the spiritual life, as well. The more you own, the more that owns you. So lighten the load.
2 – “Ritual” also makes sense. We all live by rituals. Getting up, going to work, relaxing, celebrating important events – all of those things happen within a rhythm.
I’m a Catholic cleric. We love rituals. The Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Sacraments. Even getting up every morning to hike 15 to 20 miles on a trek across a foreign country will soon be a bit of a ritual.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a ritual is:
“a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order”
and “a type of behavior invariably followed by someone.”
My life as a deacon, a husband, a dad, a leader at work, formerly as a Naval officer and now as a pilgrim hiker all have a sense of ritual to them. Rituals are how we accomplish our goals over a long period of time. We get up every day, serve as God has called us to, and then we do it again tomorrow. In between, we thank the Lord for another day. That’s the wisdom of St. Benedict that he gave to his monks. Ora et Labora. Life is a balance between prayer and work. When we combine them in the right amounts, the result is joy. Ritual is how we achieve our personal goals and how we achieve our goal of heaven.
3 – “Tiredness”. Yup. Think of how you feel when you take a midday nap. It feels like a little reward, doesn’t it? That’s because tiredness is how we know we’ve served well. God is never satisfied to leave us melting into the couch in our “ritualized cushioning”, so to speak. He calls us to serve. Every call of God to serve is one that will wear us out, exhaust us and make us tired, but also exactly what will lead us to joy. He leads us to realize that every one of us is called to suffer a little bit for the sake of something greater. “Tiredness” is the reward we get for making a good effort.
Well, invoking God in this little reflection might be a leap, right? I mean, it’s just a silly mapping app on my phone, after all. How can I know that God is leading me and my brothers on this pilgrimage?
Because God sent His Son to walk with us on Earth. He led His disciples by walking with them, for three years, all over Judea, leading them by His very example. And I happen to know a secret.
“Cushioned.Ritual.Tiredness” is Jesus’s address, too.
Huh? “Hey, Deacon, didn’t you just finish explaining that this was YOUR address? The precise location of your desk in your office?”
Yes, I did.
But I have a basement office. And directly above my head is the Blessed Sacrament chapel, so our Lord, in the Sacrament of the altar, is in the very same 3×3 meter square as me right now. And he’s telling me to put on my boots and start walking.