Today we celebrate the life of James, one of the 12 disciples, the first to be martyred (Acts 12:1 tells us by Herod's sword). He's known as James the Greater (to distinguish him from James the Lesser, James the son of Alphaeus). He's the brother of John. He was one of the first to join Jesus, and Jesus chose him to go up the mountain to witness the Transfiguration. He is the patron saint of veterinarians and pharmacists, among others.
Lately, I've heard more about St. James, as more people become aware of the pilgrimage that involves walking to his shrine in Santiago de Campostela in Spain from a variety of starting points. Walkers who cover 100 km or cyclists who cover 200 km get a compostela, a certificate, and a blessing.
I'd like to see the Martin Sheen/Emilio Estevez movie, The Way, which features this pilgrim's path. I'd love to actually walk part of it. Years ago I heard an NPR piece on modern pilgrims. It sounds intriguing.
I'm not the only one who finds the idea intriguing. In 1985, only 690 pilgrims made it to the end point, the Cathedral of Santiago de Campostela; last year 179,919 pilgrims completed the journey. The most hardcore pilgrims walk barefoot. I would not be one of those pilgrims.
I've long been interested in walkers who make grand treks. Until I realized how crowded the Appalachian Trail can be, I had daydreams about walking from Georgia to Maine. I'm about to read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, about her journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. I'll start seeking out some books written by people who are walking for spiritual reasons.
St. James is associated with scallops, and if you look at a map, you'll see that the pilgrims arriving from a variety of beginning points to the same end point does look like a scallop shell.
If I didn't have relatives staying with me, I'd make a variation of the French dish, coquilles st. jacques. I'd watch The Way.
Even with relatives here, I'll start thinking about making that walk some day.
The readings for today:
First Reading: 1 Kings 19:9-18
Psalm: Psalm 7:1-11 (Psalm 7:1-10 NRSV)
Second Reading: Acts 11:27--12:3a
Gospel: Mark 10:35-45
feeling the feelings…
9 months ago