A friend once related that he had been told that, “The Camino de Santago is the most boring hike in the world.” My response was, “If he didn’t have a spiritual bone in his body, it probably was boring for him.” Those who walk the Camino must have ample reason to undertake such a challenge. It takes a certain mindset.
I’ve walked four and three quarters (yes I’m officially 3/4 of the way through the Via de la Plata) caminos and still wonder at the diversity of these people who are called “pilgrims.”
The original pilgrims in the twelfth century were motivated to walk the caminos for strictly religious purposes, but modern pilgrims are motivated by different reasons.
The traditional pilgrim is like my brother Dave, with a strong Catholic faith and a desire to deepen his relationship with God by setting this time aside from his regular life to go on a pilgrimage. Many pilgrims, though not as staunchly Christian, are at a place in their lives where they seek spiritual guidance and need the time for contemplation. On the other hand, a large number of pilgrims are just looking for a relatively cheap travel experience and are not interested in the spiritual side. In many cases, they end up with a new perspective on their lives anyway.
The reality is that all of us are on a pilgrimage that is called “life” that has its ups and downs and involves a search for meaning. The Camino is just an opportunity to focus on our lives and what’s important in them in a single intense experience. I, for one, wouldn’t miss the chance.