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Camino Pilgrims Book Review
Recently I had the great pleasure of viewing the film The Way that follows one man’s transformational journey as he takes a pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago, or The Way of Saint James, in northern Spain. The film sparked something within my soul and, before long, I was scouring the Internet and library for any material I could find about this famous pilgrimage. Thankfully, there is plenty of information to be found on websites, blogs and in traveler’s forums and I’ve been inhaling what I’ve discovered. My local library system also has several books that follow other people’s pilgrimages on this route.
One of the books, Following the Yellow Arrow: Young Pilgrims on the Camino edited by Lynn K. Talbot and Andrew Talbot Squires, is a compilation of stories from many travelers who hiked the Camino in their younger years. I was fascinated to come across this book because I was able to glean insight from so many different perspectives. Each of the authors was intriguing as they recounted their trip on the Camino in their own unique voices. Some would highlight details like the weather, while others barely mentioned it and instead chose to focus on other elements of the journey.
While the tales are as distinctive as their authors, there are recurring themes that weave themselves throughout the book. Themes like overcoming obstacles, opening up to a better life, the kindness of strangers, inner transformation, the importance of community, finding inner strength, becoming spiritual—many of the reasons that a person would take a pilgrimage like this in the first place. And one more theme that strikes me is this: how simple life becomes when you are on the Camino. One writer, Ashleigh Volland Whitmore, so eloquently sums up this notion in an essay titled A Journey to Oneself, “The entire goal of each day was to walk. Walk and appreciate. Where else in the world demands so little?”
And I think that also explains why this pilgrimage sounds so enchanting to me. I love the idea of escaping to another world for a while; one so simple and uncomplicated that doesn’t have me clinging to the Internet or my cell phone. The experience sounds like pure liberation from the complications of our modern world. I’ve been in situations like this before, like when my husband and I boondocked in Arizona for several months one year. Our life became amazingly simple. I feel this way in small doses when I hit the slopes for a day, and all I have to worry about is what run I want to take. Or when I take a day-long hike and only need to worry about sticking to the trail.
I believe what the stories illuminate so well is that when we strip life of most of its complications, it is much easier to focus on what is real and authentic: a sense of connection to one’s true self and the community. And one path to this authentic life is taking it one step at a time along the Camino if embarking on this pilgrimage speaks to you.
RVers are notorious for taking pilgrimages, so I can confidently say that RVers would find Following the Yellow Arrow: Young Pilgrims on the Camino a captivating read.
Editor’s note: I checked this book out through my local library system.
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