Several times in the past month, El Camino de Santiago has come up in conversation among my friends. For those who are unfamiliar with it, El Camino is a pilgrimage route in Spain. The Way of Saint James is a series of routes, predominantly taken on foot, along the Pyrenees and Asturias Mountains (though one can also take a route from Seville) leading to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the burial place of St. James the Apostle. Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims walk El Camino. A few years ago, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez brought El Camino to the big Screen in the movie, The Way. Ever since I first heard about it and subsequently saw the movie, I have wanted to walk it.
Pilgrims must be in good shape and able to walk many miles with little food and no guarantee of shelter. Though it started as a religious pilgrimage almost two-thousand years ago, El Camino is often traveled by adventure enthusiasts, nature lovers, and those seeking a respite from the hectic pace of today’s technology-infused world. I can’t help but wonder whether or not snapchat fans would follow Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards if they chose to make El Camino their next endeavor. Perhaps some wouldn’t find it quite as exciting as a trip to the top of Everest without oxygen, but I would be glued to my phone watching them document their route across the French and Spanish border to Compostela.
I often say that there is only one thing on my bucket list. There are many places in this world I would like to see and many things I still want to accomplish, but there is only one thing that I feel I must do before I am called to my eternal home. Morgan will be in high school for three more years, and then we will have one in law school and two in college. Ken wants to travel to Alaska when we become empty nesters, and I will happily go with him, but I know that will be just a pre-curser to my ultimate travel experience. I am determined to follow The Way.
For those who can’t make it to Spain, two Dominican priests are planning on replicating the pilgrimage in the United States. The route will take pilgrims from New Orleans to Memphis with stops at many churches along the path. While I am intrigued by this and would happily join them, I would treat it as practice, a pilgrimage before The Pilgrimage, a way to prepare for what is to come. For preparation is the key. Stamina and good health must be taken into account, but I believe that there is much more to the preparation than the physical. If I walk The Way, it will be for spiritual reasons. It takes about a month to complete the trip, but I suspect it takes a lifetime to complete the journey. Where am I on that journey? Only God knows, but I’m pretty sure I have a long way to go, and The Way is just a step on that journey.
According to the web site for the movie, El Camino, “by its nature, serves as the ultimate metaphor for life.” The well-trodden path serves as a guide, but we must make the journey our own. We must find our own way. As for me, I hope to someday find myself along El Camino. I pray that it is just one of “the ways” by which I will make my final journey.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is now available for pre-order.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015)