Close to 300,000 people will walk the Camino De Santiago this year. The Camino de Santiago is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. People wander these ancient routes for exercise,spirituality and to find answers to their deepest questions. Some walk the entire 500 miles, other do sections. The Camino is a pilgrimage for all people for all reasons.
Closer to home, over 285 million people will visit our National Parks in 2016. They hike, camp, enjoy scenery and are moved by the history of the land. They exercise,reflect and wander. The National Parks celebrate their 100th anniversary in August of this year and are truly a place for all people for all reasons.
What do National Parks and the Camino have in common? People are seeking. People are asking powerful questions about where they are going and why they are going there. Terry Tempest Williams brings new light to these questions in her newest book Hour of the Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks.
Williams writes 12 very unique essays on 12 very different National Parks. She draws you in with historical facts and before you know it, you feel like you are wandering Acadia National Park, Gettysburg, and many other places with her. She wanders but is never lost. She weaves us into the politics of parks and then spins us outward into our longing and need for open space. She takes us on a journey with her words and leaves us with a host of philosophical questions with no clear answers.
We are often tempted in our world of the Internet to want definitive answers. Yet, what the Camino de Santiago, The National Parks and Terry Tempest Walker are teaching us is that sometimes there is not a good answer. Perhaps the greatest lesson is that when we embrace curiosity, we embrace what’s possible; even when we don’t have an answer.
It’s uncomfortable to not always have an answer. As leaders we are expected to have “the” answer. Yet, perhaps recognizing that when we are truly curious and genuinely seek meaning, that we are not lost at all. But rather, we are just stitching together new meaning for new times. This is the ultimate work of leaders.
What themes are you weaving together. Where do you like to wander to make sense of your world? Let me know, I’d love to share our wandering stories.