Just watched a wonderful inspirational movie called The Way and thought it deserves a post. The film chronicles the adventure of a successful doctor who takes up his son's journey to complete the El Camino de Santiago (or The Way of St. James) after the son's tragic death in the French Pyrenees. Real life father and son Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez team up for the project which was obviously a labor of love for the both of them
The El Camino de Santiago is a thousand year old Catholic Christian pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in north west Spain. The journey can originate from different starting point but the most famous, and the one accomplished in the movie The Way, starts in France and is a total of 780 kilometers.
The story itself is a little familiar. A successful American doctor is seemingly happy in his suburban Western world of rich patients and golf courses. He and his son's relationship, seen in flashbacks, shows a young man wanting to explore life and a father not understanding him. Forced to confront the tragedy of his death, Sheen picks up the mantle of his son's pilgrimage first as a sense of obligation but later, after encounters with fellow travelers including a priest recovering from cancer, he experiences his own personal and spiritual awakening.
The movie appealed to me on many levels. Gabriel (my 13 year old son) and I are preparing to do a two week 200 mile walk across a section of England next summer called the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk so a movie chronicling the impact a long distance walk had on a man's life was particularly relevant. Also, Sheen's character experiences a renewal in his Christian faith during his journey. Beginning the movie as a self-made man of means he becomes increasingly aware that the world is much more than what he conceived and that God's place in his own life is maybe needed more than he thought.
During the journey Sheen acquires fellow travelers that help him see life through a new lens. Each of them has their own "issues" but those issues are best worked out in their togetherness and shared humanity.
And lets face it, any movie that has a group of people drinking wine at the end of day with the beautiful European countryside in the background is worth watching on those merits alone.
And I have determined that the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage is on my "bucket list"...but I'll see how we do on a 200 mile hike next summer before I plan on a 500 mile one :)
So if you get a chance, watch The Way...and then go take a hike :)