Sunday, January 8, 2012

A pilgrimage

When I finished writing my PhD thesis in the spring of 2009, I decided to use a month to get many impressions at a distance by walking a pilgrim road to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I had written a thesis on shame and sexual abuse. This was in many ways a "heavy" topic, there were many "heavy" conversations, it was "heavy" to write, yes - there was much that was "heavy" in my life. I knew that I had so much that was "heavy" and wanted to put some of this weight on the road to Santiago. Self-Therapy? Maybe. I knew that this was the right thing for me right to do and I did it! If I regret? Never. It was a fantastic journey and I want to go back every day. I am not finished with the journey, I have become a pilgrim.

Being a pilgrim really means to be foreign. This strikes an important chord in my life and who I perceive that I am. The word "Pilgrim" come from the Latin word "peregrinus", meaning "stranger" or "foreign." I was on the point now to be a stranger. I put off 35 days for the journey. I could not Spanish, I did not know where I would sleep from day to day, I did not know where to walk and where the road went, -I was a stranger.

People have gone to Santiago de Compostela since the Middle Ages and in the last couple of decades it has really taken off. Today, about one hundred thousand people walk this road every year. There are many routes you can choose to go. Some go through Portugal, other coastal roads in northern Spain, and several are from large cities around Spain. Common to all is that they have Santiago as a goal. The way I chose is called the French route. It really begins in Le Puy in France, and legend says it was here that the first pilgrim set out from after the tomb of the apostle Jacob was found in Spain. It was built a church where the apostle was found in the year 829 and the place was called Santiago (Santi-ago, St. Jacob). The whole of the French route from Le Puy to Santiago is the 1600 km. You needs at least 2 months to mange this, that is if you walk 25 km every single day. I did not have that much time available, but really wanted to do the whole trip. I had 35 days at hand and decided to start halfway, in a place that is common for many pilgrims to begin, in the French town of St. Jean Pied de Port (which means something like "at the foot of the gate to St.Jacob ").

My pilgrimage was to begin 18.June 2009 from Sandefjord by plane and train to St.Jean Pied de Port and to finish in Santiago de Compostela no later than 23.July, because I had a plane tickett home again then. What was to happen between those dates, I knew nothing about, only that I had to take one step at a time and walk a whole lot.

This journey has meant so much to me as a person, and I will in future blog posts describe the journey in words and pictures from day to day. Perhaps you recognize the route if you have walked the same way, or maybe you feel that this is a journey you would like to take some dag. Bon Camino

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