By Michael Bauer
SVP, Business Development
I am just back from a vacation in Europe - a pilgrimage to honor my father, who passed the title of walker to me. I am so blessed to work for a company that realizes that our personal pilgrimage need not be separate from our work goals and that, in fact, our work should align as closely as possible with our skills and our ideals.
I lit a candle for my father and received a pilgram's blessing. I then began the first day walking at over 4,000 feet of elevation to the town of Roncevalles. I walked with two new friends: Dr. Denis Casey, professor of medieval history in Ireland; and Colonel Kevin Dennehy, Special Forces ret. It was an amazing day.
The following day I made a lifelong friend in Meghane Levasseur, a 23-year-old woman from Montpellier, France. We walked all the way to Pamplona together over the next couple of days. She and my daughter, Hannah, have connected on Instagram and now Hannah has a new French resource for her studies! Meghane has been walking for 40 days and will walk for 40 more! She is tough and I call her "Rooster" for her bright morning disposition; she called me Captain (I have no idea why). I partied with the Spanish in the festival of San Fermin; I (kinda) ran with the bulls; I lay on beaches in Biarritz, France and San Sebastian, Spain; and I was in Paris during Bastille day.
On the morning of the first day, I came across a statue of the Virgin Mary shrouded in fog, high in the Pyrenees. I was exhausted. The sun was trying to burn through, the clouds parted and a sunbeam shone on the statue (see photo); I knew I was where I was supposed to be.
Today, I am back at work. How blessed am I to do a job that really matters, with people who know it. There are so many interesting people in the world trying to find themselves, looking for meaning; many are young and some are old, but the search is an idea that transcends nationality, politics, religion and ethnicity. My opinion is that the search is not difficult, but recognizing what you find sometimes is. We are so fortunate to work in an industry that gives us the perspective to sharpen that recognition.
I did have many quiet solitary moments on the Camino De Santiago that allowed me to reflect on what it is I do. Can I do it better? Does my work reflect my highest vision of myself? The answer is yes to both questions.