Spiritual Expansion: Fr. Filkins returns from pilgrimage

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 18, 2016

Fr. Filkins stands at the Santiago de Compostela marker outside of Santiago, Spain.  Photo submitted

Fr. Filkins stands at the Santiago de Compostela marker outside of Santiago, Spain.
Photo submitted

“In a nutshell, it was extraordinary,” Father Jonathan Filkins said of his recent completion of a notable 500-mile pilgrimage, the Camino De Santiago.
The Camino is one of the three great pilgrimages known to the Christian world, Filkins said in an April interview. His journey began in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-port, a small town in France, and ended in Santiago, Spain.
However, Filkins said his journey began the moment he left Picayune.
“The facets of this journey were like a diamond,” he said. “Each one conveyed a different kind of reflection. Santiago was indifferent to education, preparation, attitude, gear and reduced everyone to a common denominator.”
During much of Filkins’ journey along the Camino, he encountered many of nature’s elements including rain, snow, freezing rain and a 6,000-foot elevation.
After spending a day walking in the rain, Filkins said a warm bed and shower were his top priority.
He began his pilgrimage on April 28 and reached Santiago on May 11 where he received the Compostela, a certificate for those who complete the Camino for religious purposes.
“It’s the most expensive piece of paper I’ve owned, physically, financially and spiritually,” Filkins said.
A common theme among Filkins’ fellow pilgrims was the rejection of the idea that something needs to be “fixed” during the pilgrimage.
“For me, my core is fine,” he said. “But I wanted to clear the cobwebs and expand greatly upon the generosity of the heart of God. It wasn’t about renewal but expanding physically, spiritually and emotionally. When you reduce your daily needs to the essentials, it makes it easier to determine what’s important.”
The Camino, is a metaphor for life, Filkins said. It’s a journey that also includes obstacles and challenges.
“I’m more aware of my physical, emotional and spiritual limits,” he said. “Working past that was my biggest challenge.”
During the trip, Filkins met people from all over the world, including those from Iceland, Germany, Croatia, England, Australia, Canada and the United States.
“It was called the Camino family,” Filkins said. “As fellow pilgrims, we were reduced to a common denominator, the pursuit of completion. Everyone’s Camino journey is different and the expectations will not always be the result.”
During what he called his self-directed pilgrimage, Filkins visited churches, cathedrals and museums in Naples, Rome, Florence and Madrid.
Filkins said he would absolutely complete another pilgrimage.
He is planning to go to England and complete pilgrimages there. They are all over Europe, he said.
Filkins, who is the rector at Saint Barnabas Anglican Church in Picayune, said he is still reflecting on his pilgrimage and doesn’t sweat the small stuff anymore, he said.
“I want to exhibit to my parishioners a greater heart and understanding in a religious and personal sense,” Filkins said.

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