Zubiri: Day #3
The Camino de Santiago has become very popular in recent years. Even now in September, out of the official 'high season,' there are lots of people walking. A crush of people in the dorms. Lines of pilgrims at the village supermarket.
From what we've experienced so far, walking the Camino is not necessarily a religious or spiritual journey for some of the participants. It is perhaps more about getting out in nature for a long hike; a way to get away from the office or backpack in Europe for the first time or a way to enjoy retirement. There is nothing wrong with this of course, but it just runs counter to what we expected from a pilgrimage (especially after our pilgrimage experience in Bosnia a month ago).
Last night we went to a Pilgrim's mass and the priest addressed this directly in his homily. He acknowledged that many were not doing the walk on the Camino for spiritual reasons–that people were not walking with some religious purpose.
But as is so common in powerful preaching, the sermon took a possible negative and turned it into an intriguing positive. He proposed the possibility that even though some are not looking for God on the Camino, perhaps God is in search of them on the pilgrimage. Perhaps God might be revealed to someone even if he or she isn't usually seeking out such a revelation.
We walked a good distance today but at times wondered if the journey could be as spiritually significant as we anticipated. Then we saw this cross with rocks piled around, signifying prayers of passersby.
Sure, some on the Camino are in it for the recreation, for the sport of it. Sure, some are dressed in top-end hiking gear like they are about to climb K2. We've cracked a few snarky jokes: it's like a Camino de Gore-tex out here. Another nice day on the Camino de Spandex…
But it is exciting to think about how going for this walk will certainly be life-changing for people, no matter what their initial motivations. Many will come away with new or re-newed faith. Many will catch a glimpse of God on the way.