March 22, 2004

The Decision to Go on Pilgrimage

Those who live along the Camino may feel somewhat discouraged due to the fact that many pilgrims are not on pilgrimage fore clearly religious reasons. The starting points for pilgrims are very different, not only in terms of geography, but also in terms of inner starting points.

Each person arrives with expectations and reasons for doing the pilgrimage, but all have one thing in common: the decision to set out to look for something. This is what distinguishes the one who puts on boots, grabs a backpack, and heads out for Santiago from other people who prefer to spend their free time on other things like traveling to other places, relaxing, or learning languages.

Motivated by a thousand and one reasons, those who leave their lands and their homes to go to Santiago de Compostela, those who are on the Camino, are not mere tourists.

Maybe we do not see it, but as Don Jose Maria of San Juan de Ortega says to pilgrims, the great gift of being a pilgrim is received before reaching the goal…setting out on the road. We are pilgrims out of a deep conviction.

The Camino de Santiago has the ability to affect the entire person, outside as well as deep inside. Step by step, as we walk down the paths, the spirit of the Camino seeps in and molds us into a real pilgrim.

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