A Christmas Watch: “The Way”

imageChristmas, besides being one of the “holiest” times of the year, is also a time for food, family and fun.  Movies are planned to premier at this time of year recognizing the relaxed schedule.  If you go to a movie, you must see “Lincoln.”  I will write about it in another article, but outside of some language, you will be thrilled and inspired by Steven Spielberg’s view of our 16th president. 

However, if you want to stay home and avoid the crowds, here is my suggestion.  Rent the film, The Way.  As preparation, allow me to offer a historical overview.

The Camino De Santiago is a 500-mile footpath that begins in France and ends near Spain’s northwestern corner.  Since the 9th century, when pilgrims first began walking it on their way to view the relics of the Apostle James, it has become one of the world’s great spiritual destinations.  By the 14th century, as many as 25% of all Europeans had walked the Camino.  Even today, over 200,000 hikers complete the pilgrimage every year.

The 2011 film, The Way, takes place along this famous footpath.  It is the story of Tom, an American doctor (Martin Sheen), who makes the journey after his adult son Daniel dies while attempting it.  The two of them had parted on bad terms; Tom felt his son was wasting his time, and his life, undertaking the pilgrimage.  After the death, he feels compelled to bring Daniel’s ashes with him to Spain, and honor his son’s memory by completing his journey.

Along the way, he is acquainted with three misfits, each with his or her own story.  Like all human stories, they are a mixture of tragedy and comedy.

The movie is not so much about the place as it is the journey.  And so it is with life … as is so carefully portrayed in the Christmas journey.  Pursue as we will the events of Bethlehem, ultimately and intimately, it is not about the place but the journey it reveals. 

 Christ makes the journey to earth to show us the journey to heaven and only then do we realize, heaven is not simply a place we are striving to go, but a journey we are privileged to live.  Remember, the Christ child became the Christ man and said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14: 6).  Thanks be to God!