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Center for Action and Contemplation

Guideposts on the Camino

May 13th, 2024
Guideposts on the Camino

Braxton Martorano is a resident of Indianapolis and recent graduate of Butler University, where he designed a racial equity workshop based in storytelling, served as a ministry leader, and studied economics. He now works to support small, disadvantaged businesses at the Indy Chamber of Commerce. 

By Braxton Martorano

As with most young Americans today, I recently entered the workforce carrying more anxiety, choice paralysis, and fear than I was prepared for. Growing up in the age of technology, it has been natural for us to create various expressions of self (both false and true versions), making it difficult to be squeezed into a work system that seemingly doesn’t have space for our ideas, expressions, and intolerance of injustice. 

However, I received an invitation into liminal space with the opportunity to graduate from college a semester early in December 2022. As I reflected upon my COVID-ridden college experience, which offered many gifts of intimate community but limited the expansion of my perspective, I was inspired to take a trip abroad. I knew this was not a trip for tourism but for soul searching and to grow this perspective as I transitioned into a new chapter. God had placed a longing inside me for something I knew I had to learn through experience. Searching for structure for this journey, I encountered the Camino de Santiago and began my pilgrimage in February 2023.  

In all my excitement and inspiration, I failed to comprehend how truly isolating and disorienting walking 500 miles in a foreign country would be. Luckily, during my year of preparation, I came across Richard Rohr’s work through a podcast he did with Rob Bell and subscribed to Fr. Richard’s Daily Meditations. This exposure to the contemplative way gave me words to name the mystical experiences I was having: entering a liminal space of unknowing, not just on the Camino but within my life as I left the comfort of my college experience.  

I sensed beforehand that I was to listen only to the whispers of God while there. This caused feelings of unfamiliarity and confusion—about who I am and who God is—to intensify during my journey. But as the noise of my mind rose during my isolated walking, the Daily Meditations became a place of grounding and the very whisper I was invited to hear. During my five weeks on the Camino, two of the weekly themes were the Desert Mystics and Pilgrimage, which served as guideposts to my practice and contemplative learning as I lived the very path the themes explored.  

When I returned home and began working full-time, I decided to start giving to the CAC. I joined the Bonaventure Circle of Support not only because of CAC’s placement as a divine light post during my pilgrimage, but also because it authentically guides my generation into the God experience we deeply desire but too often don’t perceive through the dominant methods of the Western church. I look forward to the expansion of support for the CAC’s vision of a more just and connected world that includes my generation.   

This reflection appears in the Spring 2024 issue of the Mendicant, our quarterly donor newsletter.

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