Testimonial from the Rev. Jacob Smith

Todos Estamos Juntos We are all in this Together

My name is Jacob Smith and I am the rector of Calvary-St. George’s Episcopal Church in New York City.  In July 2018 I co-led a pilgrimage to walk the Camino de Santiago (Primitivo), beginning in the town of Lugo, 100 kilometers east of Santiago de Compostela.  In my ministry I have participated in several pilgrimages; however, there is a totality to the Camino that I have never experienced on any other pilgrimage.   The Camino engages the body, mind, and soul as one walks with other pilgrims in the Spanish countryside, across routes to Santiago de Compostela that have been trod for over 1,000 years.  As you walk the Camino you cannot help but feel connected to both history and eternity at the same time.

One particular day towards the end of our walk illustrates for me this total engagement.  I was exhausted from the previous day, and we were about to encounter some very steep hills. Along the Camino are trail markers to let pilgrims know they are still on the right path and how far they are from Santiago. Many of these trail markers are covered in graffiti.   As we began our ascent up hill, my legs were burning, my back hurt, and I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. Surrounded by pilgrims from all over world on the trail marker it was written, “Dios te amo mucho” (God loves you very much).  God was clearly speaking to me through that little bit of graffiti. Soon, as if entertaining angels, someone offered me one of their hiking poles, empowered by the fact that God loves us very much, a group of us helped someone with their heavy pack. As we summited the large hill the next trail marker read, “todos estamos juntos” (we are all in this together). Surrounded by the love of God in the face of our fellow pilgrims we were in this together, as Christians, pilgrims, and humans making our way together in this moment on the Camino called life.

This is why supporting the Anglican Center in Santiago is extremely important.  At the pilgrims’ mass in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela the reality of our divisions become apparent in the one place our togetherness should not only be embodied, but accentuated. As Episcopalians none of us had intended to come forward and receive communion during the mass. We all were aware of and respected the polity.  However, being reminded, in at least five different languages, non-Roman Catholics were not welcome to communion was a real “buzz kill.”  The Anglican Center in Santiago will provide a real opportunity for pilgrims to find hospitality, refreshment and, after a long walk, real welcome.  I want to encourage you to get behind this important ministry, so that in the city of St. James, Christians can reflect the truth that, “Dios te amo mucho”(God love you very much) and continue the reality of “todos estamos juntos” (we are all in this together). 

The Rev. Jacob Smith
Calvary-St. George’s Episcopal Church
New York, NY