But Why?

Why do it? I don’t really know.

Paddy Kavenagh wrote:


That in the end I may find

Something not sold for a penny In the slums of Mind.

That I may break With these hands

The bread of wisdom that grows In the other lands.

For this, for this Do I wear

The rags of hunger and climb The unending stair.

Do I really think that there are some things ‘not sold for a penny in the slums of mind’? I’m nearly certain that there is no ‘bread of wisdom’ either here or in any other lands.

It will be long and cold and tiring and hot and and wet. I’ll be lost and confused and unable to communicate with people. Hopefully I won’t be the only one in that situation!

It is extraordinarily unlikely that the bones of St. James are in Santiago de Compostello. After all they were lost for 800 years until it became politically necessary to rediscover them. And even if they are there, they are just some old bones.

The Camino is full of ‘miracles’ like roast chickens coming to life that are, to put it mildly, unlikely. But do they have a deeper meaning?

A lot of the imagery refers to the reconquesta, the 800 year war that ended in the destruction of the Muslim kingdoms of Al-Andalusia and the expulsion of all Muslims and Jews.  There are two common representations of St. James. He is both Pelegrino, a gentle pilgrim to his own shrine and Matamoros, the Moor killer.

I’ll remember my Muslim friends with affection whenever I see Matamoros.Santiago-Matamoros-Catedral-de-Burgos

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One thought on “But Why?

  1. Felicity Rosalind Cable says:

    I look forward to experiencing your pilgrimage vicariously, following your progress from the comfort – or should that be discomfort? – of my saddle en route to Slaidburn. May the road go well for you indeed!

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