A pilgrimage for health? I’ve always loved the idea of walking the El Camino de Santiago in Spain. To be en route with others seeking for a spiritual experience on the road could be so inspiring. Here in Southern Indiana, we have a number of retreat sites devoted to the same purpose: spiritual enlightenment and inspiration. My colleague, Anna Bowness-Park, writing for the May 18, 2015 edition of The Vancouver Sun, sheds some light on spiritual pilgrimages and their true purpose. Here’s Anna:
Always ready for an adventure, a close friend of mine, Beth, decided to walk part of the famous pilgrimage walk, El Camino de Santiago in Spain.
“For the first few days I thought I might have to give up!” she said, explaining how physically and mentally unprepared she was for the challenging walk. But she didn’t! She committed to the pilgrimage. Gradually she found a rhythm to her day. Walking became a discipline. She allowed herself to take rests – sometimes for a whole day or two. She also began to realize that the inner, spiritual journey was more important to her than the physical one.
Beth’s decision to walk the Camino came at a time when she faced a great number of challenges. She was questioning her career path, had health issues, was overweight, and she felt burdened by difficult family problems.
As she became clearer about the spiritual nature of the trek, she started to feel mentally lighter. Problems did not loom so large as she dwelt more on the spiritual nature of life. She opened her thinking to new ideas about something she hadn’t thought about for a long time – her unique and unbreakable relationship with God. All that walking gave her an opportunity to think spiritually – even pray, for the first time in decades. She didn’t pray for her problems to be resolved, but rather for closeness to the divine. After four weeks she….