Several years ago I saw a movie called “The Way” made by Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen. In it, they play a father and son. The son has quit his job because he’s not happy and decided to do the Camino walk to find his purpose. His father yells at him and urges him not to do something so stupid with his life, but the son won’t be stopped and goes to the South of France to do his walk. About a week in to his walk, there’s a bad storm, and, tragically, the son dies along the way. His father comes to France to collect his body, and ends up doing the walk in his memory, and the movie is about what happens along that walk.
I was deeply moved by that film and have wanted to do the walk ever since. I was delighted to learn, in Portugal, that the Camino walk has many paths, one of them being in Portugal. I was planning to do a few days walk (each day you do roughly 25 km of walking) however, my plantar fasciitis decided to be so aggravated even after 30 minute hikes, that I opted, instead, to walk the last kilometer to the Santiago de Compostella church.
Though there are many tourist shops along the last bit of the walk, what is most amazing is the feeling. So many pilgrims are feeling the joy of having accomplished their walk you can’t help but feel their joy with them, even if you haven’t walked the same path they have.
But I think my favorite part was the Pilgrim’s Mass. Yes, I’m Jewish, however, after living with a French host family in Normandie, France, and attending mass with my host mom on Sundays, I came to enjoy mass and attend it every once in a while. But, this mass, I was waiting the whole time, wondering if, like in the movie, they’d swing the huge incense pot in the middle of the church, and they did! I am not sure why, but I was almost moved to tears. Perhaps it was the connection to the film, perhaps it’s knowing that I finally made it to this church that I have wanted to for so long, and perhaps it’s that symbol of all I have accomplished so far this year.
No matter what the reason, my heart leapt with joy, and I felt honored to be part of something so special and will carry that memory with me always. I hope the photos below might convey just some of the amazing experience.