Why would someone take a month out of a busy and productive life and walk 490 miles on a sometimes treacherous path in all kinds of weather?
Collins decided to make such a pilgrimage, the route of the Camino, the Way of St. James, a path for pilgrims for over a thousand years. He had found his spiritual life suffered from distraction. A suggestion by a friend seized his imagination and his journey was born.
Collins shares his halting steps at changing his thinking, of getting away from a schedule and the compulsion of productivity. He writes about the people he met, the conditions at night, his equipment, the history of the places, the shrines. He highlights the times of solitude and the ones of camaraderie. He reveals his own introspection and what he learned on the journey.
“One of the joys of the Camino, I think, is to meet so many folk who have refused to sit down by the waters and weep – or, having wept, have climbed to their feet once more. I heard some distressing stories along the Way. But I didn't meet any victims.” (202)
We live in a noisy world. Sometimes, Collins writes, we use that noise as a drug. It keeps us from having to think, to consider our place in the world. Going on this pilgrimage taught him much about his life. “I have eschewed peace and contemplation,” he writes. (157) Unlike a vacation, this journey forced him to evaluate his life, to be a solitary individual in a world where solitude is rare.
I recommend this book to those interested in pilgrimage. You'll find out why some have done pilgrimages historically and why people still do them today. You'll traverse the miles with Collins and meet other pilgrims. You'll also learn quite a bit about Collins himself, both the past and present.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Tony Collins has spent more than 40 years publishing books and magazines and has started several imprints, including Monarch Books.
Monarch Books, distributed in the U.S. by Kregel, 256 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel. My comments are an independent and honest review.