The Way (DVD Release 2012) This film should come with a warning.
“After watching this you may feel compelled to up-end your life to spend six weeks walking across Spain.” The premise of this film appears to be quite simple. It is about a father whose son dies in the Pyrenees.
However it is so much more.
Martin Sheen plays Tom, the grieving father, whose world is forever changed on receiving the news that his son has perished on a freezing mountainside in southern France.
Arriving in St Jean Pied de Port, he is met by the local police chief, a steadying and deeply compassionate presence.
Tom decides to walk the Camino carrying his son’s ashes in his backpack.
This 800 kilometre journey is the school of discovery in which he learns about himself, God and others.
Initially Tom is inwardly-focused but reluctantly his heart opens to his fellow pilgrims who bear their own wounds.
Walking through the beauty of northern Spain, the four companions experience the common discomforts of sleeping in narrow beds in crowded alburges (hostels), sore feet and the never-ending path ahead. These trials develop trust, friendship and loyalty.
During a shared evening meal Tom catches a glimpse of his son at the table. He looks again and he’s not there. These mystical appearances are heart-rending.
There is pathos aplenty in this film but also moments of great humour.
In the end Tom understands his son’s words “You don’t choose a life, Dad, you live it”.
When I arrived in Santiago de Compostela in 2018 I thought that my pilgrimage was over but was told that it really had only just begun. I was invited to continue to process my experiences as I returned home allowing any insights to filter through my life.
This is one of the gifts of pilgrimage – it never ends.
So, as we journey through this Erromeria we can be confident that we too are not alone. Along with St Ignatius, we will rub shoulders with others who will be our companions and teachers on the journey. Buen camino!
Marie Lynch lives on the Sunshine Coast, she has experienced the Full Spiritual Exercises Retreat in Daily Life and is currently being trained as a Giver of the First Spiritual Exercises.