This weekend I along with my wife and a group of friends watched at Mount Vernon’s Lincoln Theater, the new film Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago. It was an engaging and fascinating film shining light on six modern day pilgrims from different backgrounds-walking for different reasons on El Camino de Santiago (The way of St. James) . There has been quite a renewed interest in this ancient pilgrimage route, once one of the most important Christian pilgrimage routes. A few years ago, The Way, a fictitious movie about the Camino generated quite a bit of interest in this pilgrimage route as well.
Lately there has been quite a bit of interest in long distance routes in general with best sellers and films on folks taking to the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. Long distance walking is meditative, reflective and cathartic. My longest walks have only been for 2 weeks. But I have engaged in several long distance bicycle rides including one that lasted 8.5 months and covered 12,800 miles along the perimeter of the United States. To me that ride was a pilgrimage of self discovery through experiencing the diverse lands and peoples of America.
For those of us who can disconnect from the rituals and trappings of a regimented life-and take time off to be alone-develop meaningful relationships- and to experience the world without distraction and truly in the moment-life becomes more meaningful and purposeful. A lot of folks are spiritually bankrupt right now. I believe that this renewed interest in the Camino is because there are so many of us that despite living in such prosperous times, feel spiritually broke. The more our world becomes connected through technology, we become more disconnected from ourselves. Could we possibly be on the brink of a new enlightenment that involves the simple act of walking to reach a higher consciousness? Hard to tell.
I have walked on several occasions parts of the Camino del Piemonte Pirenaico, (Piedmont Road); one of the feeder routes in France to the Camino. Even walking a small section of this ancient trail across the Pyrenees into Spain–along a route that thousands of folks have walked on for over a thousand of years for thousands of different reasons- touches the soul and forces you to reflect on your life. I’m glad to see such an interest right now in an ancient pilgrimage route. I’m happy to see so many modern day pilgrims. A long walk can do a soul a lot of good. Buen Camino to all who can take those steps and step into a new consciousness.