By Lucy Johnson
Today’s Gospel is about the Good Samaritan. Jesus told this story as an answer to the question “who is my neighbor?” Normally, when I hear this reading, I ponder how I can show mercy and be a neighbor to others. However my perspective has changed as I had the experience of being the person who needed and received help.
Last Fall, I walked the Camino in Spain by myself. The theme of my 40-day pilgrimage was trust and surrender. Although I walked alone, there are many others on the way. Yellow arrows are strategically placed to mark the direction. For me, the days were spent walking and praying among some of God’s most beautiful creation.
On the second to last day of my journey, my Good Samaritan story begins. That day would be one of my longest, so I got an early start about 2 hours before sunrise. When I left the hostel, it was pouring rain and very dark. I planned on taking a short-cut to save time and to avoid a large hill that I would have to walk up.
After about an hour, I realized that I was lost. I wasn’t on the way. In fact, I was in a highway construction zone. I couldn’t go back, so I kept going forward. Finally, I saw a car coming toward me which stopped. Perhaps he had seen my headlamp and would help. He appeared to be the foreman and instead of helping, he yelled at me in Spanish. I think he said, “Get out of here”. I could only reply “Camino?” and pantomime you-drive-me? His response was to lock the doors of his car, turn his back and walk away. Then a truck arrived. The middle aged driver slowed, but neither would he help me.
Finally a young man drove up. As I repeated my attempts to communicate, he said “Si” and allowed this dirty, wet old lady into his car. All I could say was “gracias” over and over. I had walked about an hour and a half out of the way and would not have found the path on my own. He took me right to where I needed to be and wouldn’t accept any of the money that I offered.
As I continue to ponder this experience, I am amazed that during the ordeal, I had inner peace. I wasn’t anxious or worried because I knew that God would protect me. In spite of the fact, that I lost the way trying to take short cuts and avoid hardships, God was faithful and there for me. He didn’t lose sight of me.
I am a slow learner as I am continually challenged to trust and surrender. I try to remember to face difficulties head-on knowing that God is always there. Being the person who needed help has given me a new appreciation of the Good Samaritan story. The rejection by those I thought would help and the assistance offered by the unlikely one opened my eyes to the how the living word is applicable in today’s world.
About the author:
Lucy Johnson lives in St. Paul, MN with her husband, Jeff. She has 7 children and 9 grandchildren. She is a pharmacist at Children’s Hospital and past-president of the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women. (ACCW 2013-2015). Her love of travel has taken her to 5 continents including Africa and Australia. A “Martha” working on her “Mary”, she walked the Camino in 2018.