The word Pilgrim is defined is the Free Dictionary as:
1) A religious devotee who journeys to a shrine or a sacred place.
2) Someone who embarks on a quest for something conceived of as sacred.
3) A traveller
It took a movie for me to realize that those three definitions fit me more than any other definition has.
But first, to understand, we must start with the first steps.
I will admit it - today was another Fibro day. One of those days when Fibromyalgia wins the battle while I still attempt to win the war. Since it was another Fibro day, and TV shows are pretty much slow to show until after both the Super Bowl and Hollywood Awards Season ends, I took the opportunity to watch a movie that has been sitting in my Netflix queue for far too long.
"The Way" was the choice. Yes, I know - heavy. Not necessarily something you want to watch while you are sitting on your bed bemoaning the fact that Fibro has gotten the best of you for the day. But you know, it was the perfect movie to watch today. I learned a great deal from the movie, more than I ever thought I would.
Emilio Estevez wrote and directed the movie then cast his father as the main protagonist, and himself as the spirit of his father's foil. The story is about a father and son who have drifted since the death of the wife and mother of the family. After the mother died, the son - Daniel - has decided not to complete his doctorate and instead travel the world. As he says "Margaret Meade did not become a world famous anthropologist by sitting behind a desk writing a discertation." For Daniel traveling was the way to learn, not books and computers.
Daniel decides to take a walk, a rather long one, from a small town in France to Santiago de Compostela. The minimum trek is about 100KM, which is about 62.5 miles - no small feat. In this movie, however, the walk is a bit longer, about 300KM to 350KM and takes a route through the mountains, Basque country and down along the coast of Spain. Unfortunately, Daniel makes it through only one day before a tragic accident kills him. Tom, played by Martin Sheen, flies to France to retrive Daniel's body, but instead ends up finishing Daniel's pilgrimage for him.
What struck me in this movie was the way modern day pilgirms were depicted. It made me realize something rather significant for me - I am a pilgrim.
You see, today's pilgrims mostly wander in search of the sacred and significant, but for us it is not described. It is not packaged up into a coffin, or a building and a religious service. Religion for us has become more of a private thing - sometimes shared in a communial building, but mostly felt within our own hearts and souls. Instead it is for the meaning behind why we are alive that we wander.
I guess my entire life has been a pilgrimage, as a military brat I have moved more times than I care to remember. But it was the journeys I took on my own that I believe truly made me a pilgrim, and I still am one - just not a trekking one at the moment.
My first pilgrimage took me across the United States. I started in Virginia and finished in Los Angeles in search of a way to make a living in Hollywood. I took three week, met many interesting people on my trek - which was in a car, not on foot - and learned a bit about who I was becoming. I was very young at the time.
My second, third and fourth pilgirimages were in search of a cure for Breast Cancer. I walked the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day, now the Susan G. Koman 3-Day. The walk is about 60 miles, close to what El Camino pilgrims walk in their month on the trail. Again, I learned a great deal about myself and why I am still searching for my meaning in life.
Today, I am a pilgrim writers. The fibro has sidelined me a bit from extreme walking or long distance driviing. Between that, my hubby and my six year old. I sometimes have difficulty understanding my role in the world. Am I a mother? A wife? Someone who used to have a fast paced job but cannot anymore? What am I? Will I ever be a writer? Will my words ever inspire someone as words have inspired me?
And then I watched Emilio Estevez's small, low-budget, independent film "The Way" and I realized my role in life.
I am a pilgrim. It is my job to seek the sacred, the miraculous. It is my place to recognize those still small voices that speak to each of us as do what it is that we are meant to do in life, be it write, work on computers, sell real estate or study.. Whatever it is we do we know, deep down, that our true goal is to learn and to be inspired.
And if we are truly blessed, our job is to inspire others at least once in our lifetimes.