El Camino De Santiago
That is the temporal road, that straddles between at least two countries in Europe. But the spiritual road is Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
And without him, there is no going. No knowing. And no living.
And he is not limited by any boundaries.
During the time of Christ, the main transport of travel was walking. And indeed Christ did a lot of walking in the countryside of the Holy Land and beyond. These exhausting physical exertions in rugged places we are told had made the human Christ an envious picture of sturdiness, hardiness, and physical strength. Not the effeminate figure with dainty hands we see in current-day images.
Constant trekking from place to place was the one physical exercise that aided men of that milieu in transcending the physical realm into the mystical or spiritual. Like extreme athletes of our times, people then attain natural “highs” or altered states doing the normal routines of their living – walking to get to work, walking to search for their food, walking to learn of things, etc., routines that transformed them into a hardy people.
Today we consider our recreational running and jogging as our camino to better our bodies and minds and or to make ourselves fit for the rigors of our daily living. But soldiers and armies then went through incessant “forced marches” to prepare for battle.
In all this, walking had the goal of achieving temporal goals for the partakers. For that is what walking does. A draining of physical energy and vigor to lighten the spirits and make them soar to heights. And that is what is intended.
However, many participants of the Camino de Santiago consider it as a means to attain many temporal goals – like a way to finding themselves, as the possible portal that could lead to finding a worthy mate for life, a saintly venue to meet people who inspire or are agreeable to us, a way to practice a bit of the contemplative life, a way to find help in our individual lives’ many challenges, etc.
But I do believe this temporal way is intended for a greater purpose, and this is to meet and imitate the spiritual or mystical Way, Christ. And in the singularity of the eye of our intention, no temporal baggage ought to be added to burden that knowledge and following. We do it for the singular purpose of following Christ because He demands it from his trusty and loyal sojourners.
And taking this route one cannot go wrong, remembering that temporal goals however commendable are fleeting and do not last long.
And is the Camino then the only path that leads to our spiritual enlightenment and guidance?
One doubts that, especially because not all people can possibly have the time or means to travel to that distant place, so one can walk over 800 kilometers.
There are enough kilometers where our own individual lives are, without necessitating any distant travel.
As a species humans are quite unique, as one city week-end runner in the US once remarked: We drive in our cars for 10 miles so we can get to a park and run around it for 2 miles.
We can define our own camino in the comfort and ease of our own work-a-day lives wherever we find ourselves, and it would be just as effective, rigorous, and acceptable.
I have been routinely jogging and walking for almost 30 years, already covering thousands of miles and wearing away countless sneakers. At times the journey had been pained and difficult, at other times light-hearted and joyous. I had jogged on sunny days, in the cover of early night, or under pouring rain. Under a temperate climate or under the blistering sun of the tropics. The journey and route running the entire gamut of human living.
I like to believe that my search for the Camino of Life has led me to a better place than when I started. Not the ideal place, but a better place. After all that is all and how much this earthly life promises to each one of us.