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Bold Beginnings: Following Christ into Community

Arrow, boots, and path Over the course of hundreds of miles, yellow arrows direct pilgrims on El Camino de Santiago toward their destination, the city of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Beginnings can be simultaneously exciting and gutsy, joyous and terrifying, inspiring and challenging. To take an idea, planted by God’s Spirit, and breathe it into life requires boldness. This boldness is rooted in the faith that the sowing will produce flourishing.
Though the beginning of anything is full of risk, it’s also full of potential: the opportunity to grow, to be marvelously blessed, to experience more life.

To ignore the promptings of the Spirit—the idea or dream that seeks to emerge and grow life—is to miss out on an incredible gift.

Embarking on Pilgrimage

I recently hiked El Camino de Santiago ("The Way of Saint James"), an ancient pilgrimage across Northern Spain, that winds through magnificent mountains, rolling wheat fields, luscious vineyards, quaint villages, and historic cities. The route can be a bit daunting, as it requires walking nearly 500 miles in all weather conditions, across diverse terrain, and alongside a motley crew of pilgrims from across the globe.

Signs with arrows Regardless of their size or form, yellow arrows can be a sign of relief and encouragement for weary pilgrims.

The entire path is marked by the presence of yellow arrows that point pilgrims toward their destination, the city of Santiago de Compostela. Each day as I embarked on the journey before me, I did not know where the yellow arrows would lead. Of course, I had the direction of a guidebook, the company of friends, and the hope of a place to sleep, but I didn’t know what challenges or joys stood between me and my destination. My job was to follow the yellow arrows—as thousands of pilgrims had done before me—and trust that they would guide me in the right direction.

And so, it is with beginnings. Though we may not know where they lead, our job is to follow the Spirit’s “yellow arrows”—trusting they will lead us in the direction of a destination we cannot yet see.

Finding the Way

If you’re like me and forget to look for the yellow arrows directing the way, we have the hope of a truth-speaking, encouraging community.

During one of the few mornings I walked alone on El Camino, I missed an important turn by one kilometer. Fortunately, pilgrims are easily distinguishable in Spanish towns, as we carry large backpacks and trekking poles, and always appear just a bit more disheveled than the typical pedestrian. The kindness of four Spanish-speaking strangers—each at a different point along the way—guided me back to the right path. Though we didn’t share a common language, we shared humanity and a knowledge of the destination, which was all we needed.

Many individuals—myself included—are embarking on beginnings right now.
We’ve felt the Spirit nudges to listen to our conviction, raise our voice, and create change about something we believe in—a vision we hold for life lived together within community.

For me, this involves taking steps to help my church family be a place of belonging for persons with varied abilities. As we embark on this journey, daunting as it may be, we look for the yellow arrows guiding the way. And as we walk and watch, we delight in God’s provision and celebrate the beauty that unfolds. We’re pilgrims on the journey, moving step by step, toward a vision of shalom.

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Katie Barkley headshotKatie Barkley is the director of marketing and communications at All Belong.