Here’s more than a movie recommendation for you; “The Way” starring Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen.
I hadn’t heard of this movie until I stumbled on it last week. Apparently it never got the usual blingy press and advertising. That’s probably for the best. Created with care, reverence, and respect, its clarity and thoughtful, natural pacing create a feel for what it must be to experience such a thing. Not a single part of it felt gratuitous or forced. It’s not a movie for the masses.
Here’s a summary quote about it from Netflix:
“When his son dies while hiking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in the Pyrenees, a grieving father decides to complete the 500-mile trek to Spain.”
The Camino de Santiago is basically “the pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried. “
Fascinated by this depiction of a modern-day pilgrimage, I let myself absorb the beauty of this film. The scenery was pretty, the trail looked user-friendly, the characters real. The story line was poignant and sincere. Something about this movie clicked in me and got me thinking.
So what is a pilgrimage and why do people do it? Dictionary.com defines it as
“any long journey, especially one undertaken as a quest or to pay homage”
Certainly a pilgrimage isn’t something every person needs or wants. But then, I wondered if life itself isn’t its own kind of pilgrimage for some, for many.
I know some who are on a long journey as a single parent, others who are traveling a difficult path through the daily trial of depression. Still others know their long road is shorter than they’d like and will end early at death’s shore. Providing long-term care for an ill family member must count as a journey worthy of honor or blessing.
I wonder if joining the military isn’t a kind of pilgrimage, certainly it’s self-sacrificing, serves a higher purpose and surely leads to deep introspection.
Service of a religious or charitable nature can take on the qualities of pilgrimage.
I’ve also wondered, since watching this movie, about my life. Do I need a pilgrimage? Have I been through any kind of refiner’s fire? Sometimes I think the answer is yes, to both questions.
Then the question becomes; do I want to take on a pilgrimage by choice instead of by default?
There is an ocean and a continent or two between myself and any beginning point on that trail across Spain. I would need a very substantial reason to walk such a path, to invest that much time and that many resources into such a quest. I’m not catholic, so a traditional religious reason doesn’t exist for taking this on. I’m sure, at this point in my life, I haven’t got the reason, the time or the resources, or the physical ability to take on something as big as the Camino de Santiago.
I set a goal some years back to hike the Grand Canyon. It seemed a reasonable quest, with a realistic time to prepare, to plan, to follow through. The goal date came and went long ago and I had done nothing to move myself toward it. Did I not really want to do it? Was it worthy of my time and attention? Or did life simply have other paths for me to take?
I feel compelled to find a reason, a justification perhaps, to take on such a quest as the Camino de Santiago. And yet, I find excuses at the ready, and know it’s something that will never happen for me. To think otherwise is to be a dreamer of the silliest sort.
Maybe all I need to do is treat my life more like the pilgrimage that it is. What’s my quest? What am I hoping to pay homage to? Where am I going? What am I hoping to achieve on this journey I’m on. What are the milestones and how will I honor them? All good questions I ought to know the answers to.
Have you been on a pilgrimage? Any experience with something like this? Any desire to do such a thing?
Related articles you might also like to read:
- Guest post: Walking the Camino de Santiago – by Janice Meyers Foreman (hitchhikershandbook.com)
- The Way (mbbsmkmedia.wordpress.com)
- My Mind is Running Wild on the Camino de Santiago (passionateaboutpoetryandlife.wordpress.com)