October 15: I am writing this in the morning instead of my usual end of day musings, though I may add something later. While I had intended to not check my email while I was away I have looked at it each day. It has been a pleasure to hit Delete for most messages. I have moved other messages into a folder for later action. But I have continued to read Richard Rohr’s (free and highly recommended) daily meditations <https://cac.org/sign-up> and it is a rare day that it has not enriched my experience. Now that I have a day of relative rest I’d like to comment on a quote from Rohr’s recent meditation. He is writing about the spirituality of Carl Jung.
I believe that good art and good images (Jung would call some of them archetypal images) have the power to evoke an epiphany in you and to transform you at deeper levels. That’s why I think good art is absolutely essential for good religion….Sometimes you don’t know what you’re experiencing in a logical, rational way, but you can’t take your eyes off of a picture or a piece of art. You’re drawn to it because the epiphany is happening as the unconscious is being ferried across to your conscious mind—but unconsciously!
When I read that this morning I thought about how it might apply to images and experiences one has on the Camino. The Way is filled with images – of faces, of ancient history, of Christian art in churches and, of course of the natural world. I think these images (not to mention smells, textures and sounds) do work on a person in an unconscious way.
I have spoken to many pilgrims who are walking because they love to hike rather than for some consciously spiritual reason. They are not seeking spiritual insight (in contrast to myself who is never not seeking spiritual insight). And yet when I get in conversation with some of these people, they will often make some reference to the spiritual dimension in a vague kind of way, as if they recognize it but have no language to put to it. So I strongly suspect that the Camino (as well as other life experiences) does act on a person’s spiritual wholeness even if it’s at an unconscious level.
Rohr’s quote also reminds me of why I have become so passionately involved in theatre. For me the whole process of producing a play and working with the actors and designers is a spiritual exercise that always involves personal growth. Few of my fellow artists see it the same way, or would put it that way, but I suspect that that dimension exists for most of us, even unconsciously.
I said goodbye to Julie this morning as she presses on to Santiago and then to Finisterre, literally “the end of the earth” a place with great mythical/mystical significance. The farewell put me in mind of my other good Camino friends that I have said goodbye to and for whom I feel so much gratitude. The Camino is like life intensified. The very temporary-ness makes it possible to forge significant friendships quickly.
Later: it was great to see Susan’s smiling face at the airport and I’m looking forward to this final leg of the journey. It’s also nice being in a private room in a pension for a change.