Walking the Way Wherever We Are

Today is the feast of St. James, Apostle. One of the “Sons of Thunder,” along with St. John, this son of Zebedee is the patron saint of Spain.

St. James’ remains are interred at Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. The pilgrimage by foot or bicycle to Santiago de Compostela is known as “the way”. A symbol of St. James is the scallop shell, and this has also become a symbol of the pilgrimage to Santiago.

Scallop shells have been souvenirs of “the way” since the middle ages, as they were plentiful in the area, but also have great metaphorical significance. The scallop shell has many lines all leading to the same point, much like pilgrims on different roads all ending up at the Cathedral of St. James. So whether or not we have ever walked the Camino, in honor of St. James, let us take a walk today — however brief it may be.

Let the walk we take be imbued with a spirit of pilgrimage. A sacred walk may be as brief as the steps from house to car, if filled with the spirit of mindfulness and taking in the present moment with all of one’s senses. To paraphrase R.S. Thomas, over the course of your walk, gather up “pollen you shall work up/ Into honey the mind feeds on.”

Along with today’s music by Alanis Morisette is a video montage from the film, “The Way,” released in 2010. Starring Martin Sheen, this film explores the motivations and journey of those who travel the way.

One thought on “Walking the Way Wherever We Are

  1. Wonderful! Friends spanning three generations took this pilgrimage and felt truly blessed by the experience. I was happy to learn more about the significance of the scallop shells, especially as I received a remembrance from the pilgrimage of a decade of a rosary, each head being represented by a scallop shell replica. Something I treasure. Very informative article. Thank you.

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Alanis Morissette - Thank you (subtitrat) - The Wai 2010

Saint James the Apostle - Albrecht Dürer
Saint James the Apostle – Albrecht Dürer


Something to bring back to show
you have been there: a lock of God’s
hair, stolen from him while he was
asleep; a photograph of the garden
of the spirit. As has been said,
the point of travelling is not
to arrive, but to return home
laden with pollen you shall work up
into the honey the mind feeds on.

What are our lives but harbours
we are continually setting out
from, airports at which we touch
down and remain in too briefly
to recognise what it is they remind
us of? And always in one
another we seek the proof
of experiences it would be worthy dying for.

Surely there is a shirt of fire
this one wore, that is hung up now
like some rare fleece in the hall of heroes?
Surely these husbands and wives
have dipped their marriages in a fast
spring? Surely there exists somewhere,
as the justification for our looking for it,
the one light that can cast such shadows.

—R.S. Thomas