I just watched The Way, a movie with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. I won't give any spoilers, but this is a film worth watching. People set out on pilgrimages for different reasons, and often by the time they complete the journey, their reasons have changed. I found it moving and sweet and it made me really fall in love with the characters.
I have considered doing the Camino myself, and there's a pilgrimage in Japan to 80 Buddhist temples that also intrigues me. I've thought about following in my ancestors' footsteps from Illinois to Utah. And I've considered walking where Terry Fox walked, in his honour. I don't know if I'll ever do any of these pilgrimages. There are days I can hardly walk my dog to the park. But the longer I put it off, the less likely I'll be to complete it. I'm not getting any younger or healthier. My reasons for wanting to go vary...honouring ancestors, proving to myself I can do something difficult, seeing what I'm made of, seeking single-minded dedication and intensity of experience, a way to develop humility, seeking grace, doing something notable before slipping into old age, getting close to history...or, to be honest, a way to justify taking two months off work and just spending time with my husband. All valid reasons. I don't know if they're good enough to carry me the whole way. It will need some more thought. But it's definitely something worth thinking about.
We need time to think intensely, to ponder the bigger questions, to take inventory of our souls. To watch the tides and figure out the rhythms of our own lives. We need quiet contemplation, time to commune with nature and God...and then we need to be up and doing. It seems to me a pilgrimage is all of those things.