What’s the Difference between a Walk and a Pilgrimage?
I pondered this question often whilst walking. And my views changed a bit along the journey.
And of course these are just my personal views. My Camino was no better, no more valid than any one else’s! This was just how I saw mine being a Pilgrimage rather than a Walk.
But for me it ‘felt’ like a Pilgrimage from the start.
I set out with the intention of walking a Pilgrimage, and I think that’s just what I got.
Sure I walked to ‘take a break’. I have run a business for 20 years without ever really having a proper break. And the same with my ‘job’ for the 20 years before that.
It was ‘time’ to find myself, more meaning, greater purpose….. but also to seek a stronger spirituality or faith. It was lurking but not strong. Now it is very strong…… That’s another very long story……
So I tried to think of what made this a Pilgrimage for me, rather than just a long walk. And I came up with these:
- There is a strong purpose or goal, that is often centered around religion or spirituality.
- There is probably a precise destination with a religious or spiritual significance. Having said that, Santiago the City was never really my goal. The journey was my goal. I called this Blog ‘In Search of Santiago’ for that very reason. I found ‘him’ long before I got to the actual place.
- It needs to take time. It’s not about distance, but time. Time to be away from our normal World. At 3 weeks into my Camino, it was all ‘happening’ for me. Less time would not have worked.
- There needs to be a degree of suffering. I think this is important as it ‘tests’ our resolve and our commitment to the task, day by day. It might be physical, emotional or spiritual ‘suffering’.
- I think we need to make sacrifices. Again to test our resolve and keep us focussed on the true purpose of our journey. OK, it could be the sacrifice of time or money. But to a degree that is easy for most people. You could walk for 2 weeks and only spend 25e a day. No, I think a deeper sacrifice. Like leaving loved ones behind. Leaving commitments and responsibilities behind. Then we don’t ‘waste’ our journey because we have ‘paid dearly’ for it in some very personal way.
- I needed to travel slowly. To appreciate my surroundings and nature. To pause, to reflect, to listen. It was almost as if I needed to ‘feel’ and ‘sense’ my surroundings as I journeyed. I could not have done this any other way except walking slowly. Sorry Cyclists.
- I needed to be open in all aspects for whatever and whomever I met. In fact I visited a Church at least once a day, and if I couldn’t find one open, I found a quiet place by the trail. I would not class myself as that ‘religious’ in the traditional sense. But each day I gave thanks to ‘someone’ for being able to spend another day on my journey (as I could barely walk the week before I started, due to training injuries) and I promised to walk with an open mind and an open heart so as to take on board any lessons I needed. And there were plenty! Every day……
- For me there also needed to be an element of history. I could have walked from Sydney to Melbourne. But the Camino was all about Pilgrimage. From the countless Churches and Crosses along the way, to the sense that we are walking the path trodden by millions for over a thousand years. Other Pilgrims, on a similar journey, seeking similar things.
Just my take on things.
I felt very fortunate to walk the Camino I did. And I learnt so many lessons along the way. One of those of course being “Everyone walks their own Camino”.