There are many reasons why people read. For some, it is a way to escape the stress of the day and travel to another time and place. For others it is a way to enlighten and educate their mind. Either way, reading transports us into a new experience.
I love it when I find a favorite book that I have read has been made into a movie. But it is also a joy to discover a movie, fall in love with it, and then get to enjoy the book it was made from.
During my recent surgery recovery I had an opportunity to watch a movie entitled The Way. To be honest it was the fact that Martin Sheen was in this movie that encouraged me to download it. I really was not sure what to expect, but this movie has been one that comes to my mind almost every day since I watched it three weeks ago. To say that it changed my perspective on life and travel would be an understatement.
The movie is based on a book written by Jack Hitt, entitled Off the Road: A Modern Day Walk Down The Pilgrims Route Into Spain. I really had very little previous knowledge of this story and even less knowledge of the pilgrim’s route that the story is based on. By the way…it is a true story!
The way of St. James or St. James Way is known worldwide by its Spanish name, El Camino de Santiago. It is a generations old pilgrimage route that follows the French and Spanish Pyrenees Mountains to the shrine of the Apostle St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Northwestern Spain). Tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried there. Thousands of people for hundreds of generations have walked this trail. Their journey is signified by the symbol of a scallop shell. One website noted this about the shell;
“They say that the contours and features of a scallop shell represent this converging of people from all over the world, bound for a common destination. A significant symbol of the Camino de Santiago, the scallop shell, just like the yellow arrow, points pilgrims on the right way, the right path, the right choice, and the right direction to Santiago de Compostela. Without either the yellow arrow, or the scallop shell, we would most likely be lost.”
There are many things I enjoyed about this movie. I loved the interaction between Michael (the son) and his father. I enjoyed seeing the difference between the father at beginning of his journey on the pilgrim’s route… and then at the end of the movie we see how his life was changed because of his experiences. I also enjoyed the addition of the eclectic characters that the father encountered along the way. Each of them had their own journey and their own story that was interwoven into the story of the father and son.
I have to admit as a lover of history and especially of cultural heritage; in our country and abroad, I have been encouraged and inspired by this engaging and interesting story. Just a few days after watching the movie, I noticed a facebook post by a travel group that I follow that specializes in tours and walks on this very same pilgrim pathway. That started me thinking. I have recently gone through several life-changing situations with my job, my health and my family. Could I walk The Way? Would I have what it takes to make this journey? I think one thing I have learned over the past year is that the only person that can make changes in my life is me. At the age of fifty-five is it possible to even dream of traveling to Spain and walking on the El Camino? Now that this thought has entered my mind and even been put down in words I know that I must work hard to make it happen.
So here’s the deal. I am challenging myself to continue my journey for spiritual, emotional, and physical health. I have some hard roads ahead of me, but if I can reach my goals before April 2015, my reward will be to walk the El Camino with Intrepid Travel. The Camino de Santiago Challenge they have scheduled for 2014 is not the entire 550 miles, but just an eight day, 73 mile walk which is more suitable to my situation. I love the fact that they also use this experience as a way to raise money for children in underprivileged countries. I am in conversation with them now and am hoping that they will offer the same tour and details again in 2015.
I guess at this point I should not be asking “why”, but rather “why not”!
Stay tuned! Let the journey begin.
PRAYER OF THE PILGRIM (Los Arcos)
“Lord, you who called your servant Abraham out of the town of Ur in Chaldea
and who watched over him during all his wanderings; you who guided the Jewish
people through the desert; we pray for you to watch your servants, who
for the love of your name, make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
Be for us,
a companion on our journey
the guide on our intersections
the strengthening during fatigue
the fortress in danger
the resource on our itinerary
the shadow in our heat
the light in our darkness
the consolation during dejection
and the power of our intention
so that we under your guidance, safely and unhurt, may reach the end of our journey,
and strengthened with gratitude and power, secure and filled with happiness,
may join our home, for Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen.
Authors note: To be honest, I have not had a chance yet to read the book that the movie was based on. I recently had someone tell me that they didn’t like the book at all and wished they had not read it after watching the movie. I make no claims or opinions regarding the book content or style. cn