Truth is Stranger than Fiction

 In the soon-to-be-released movie, The Way, Martin Sheen’s character goes to Spain to retrieve his only son’s ashes after his son, in his 40s, is killed in a storm in the Pyrenees on the first day of his pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. Then in a change of heart, he decides to walk the Camino himself, carrying his son’s ashes with him. That’s the fiction, the story-line in the movie.

 Here are some facts: When I was on the Camino myself, a British pilgrim, about 50, died on the first day of his pilgrimage … in a snow storm in thePyrenees.

After I finished the walk, a Dutch pilgrim in Santiago told me about a couple he had met. They were “a middle-aged couple whom he meets about fifty kilometres short of Santiago, who are each struggling with what is obviously an exceptionally heavy pack. When he asks them why, this story unfolds. Their only son had decided to walk the camino and had planned and prepared. He had walked a great deal, he had collected his gear, and was all ready to go when he was struck down with cancer, and was dead within three months. The parents decided to walk the camino in his memory . . . and to carry all of his gear between them, as well as their own. They will walk to Santiago, then to Finisterre and will give their son’s gear to the ocean.” (excerpted from A Journey of Days).

Finisterre is where, in the movie, Sheen’s character intends to leave some of his son’s ashes.

I haven’t seen the whole movie yet, only the trailer, but the path that Sheen walks is the genuine thing and I recognize many of the locations. I am thinking that The Way will be well worth seeing. I know that it will be showing in Canada in Vancouver and in Toronto starting in November.  I recommend that you find a location near you and plan to see it.

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