Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Way . . .

As most of you know the church that I belong to recommends that families set one night a week apart from the rest of the week to do something together as a family   It's called Family Home evening and it is normally a very special time which can help to bring family members together and strengthen their love for each other, help them draw closer to Heavenly Father, and encourage them to live righteously.  

All the members of our church are encouraged to do so.  A family can be any group . . .  from a mom,dad and children . . . down to a group of singletons that simply enjoy getting together.  Normally it is held on a Monday evening, unless there are reasons why it can't be.  Todd and I use Monday evenings as our special time.  Most members do.  There may be some who can't because of work comittments or other things and so they may hold it on another evening.  The only important criteria is that you set apart one night for yourselves as a family and that you use it in a way that will uplift and enrich the group as a whole.

We normally play some games, or watch a good film . . . a film that will make us think and ponder . . . a film that will uplift and leave us with something that can help to make us better people in some way.

This week we chose the film, "The Way," starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son Emilio Estavez.  It's about a father, played by Martin Sheen, and a son, played by Emilio.  They are somewhat estranged in that the father is a highly professional opthamologist, with very much a career oriented life . . . the son, a college drop out who left to explore the world.  One day as the father it out on a golf course, playing golf with his professional buddies, he gets a telephone call.  It is the Police from  the South of France telling Sheen that there has been an accident and his son has, unfortunately died, whilst walking the El Camino de Santiago, (The way of St James).  Of course this is stunning news and Sheen travels over to France to bring home his son's body.  He then decides to walk the Camino himself . . . finishing off the pilgrimage his son started.

It's not a flash film, or a film with a big budget and special effects and lots of action . . . but it is a beautifully done film about a father coming to terms with his son's untimely death against the backdrop of one of history's most revered pilgrimages.

When one thinks of a pilgrim, normally one would associate that with a group of religious fanatics in hair shirts, flagelating themselves whilst dragging a cross miles and miles down a dusty road, but as this film shows . . . walking the El Camino can be quest about anything . . . and you needn't be a catholic to do it.

As a gypsy says to Sheen, late in the film . . . "It's not about religion," after Sheen tells him he is not a religious man.  And indeed the three main characters in the film which attach themselves to Sheen's journey are an overweight Dutchman who is simply making the walk to lose some weight and become more attractive to his wife, an Irish Writer with Writer's Block who is doing it in hopes that the solitude will jog something in his brain and release the block . . .  and a middle aged Canadian Woman coming out of an abusive relationship on a quest to give up smoking.

El Camino de Santiago is the pilgrimage route to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain. Tradition has it that the remains of the apostle St. James are buried there after having been transported by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain and buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.

From one of its most popular starting points, St. Jean Pied de Port in southwestern France, El Camino stretches nearly 500 miles to Santiago (another popular starting point is Roncesvalles in Spain). Pilgrims, or peregrinos, as they are known in Spanish carry a document called a credencial, a pilgrim's passport, that receives an official St. James stamp from each town or refugio at which a pilgrim has stayed. It serves as proof that a pilgrim has walked El Camino according to an official route, and also is necessary if a pilgrim wants to obtain a compostela, or certificate of completion of the pilgrimage.

We found both the film and the devotion of those that walk this pilgrimage very inspiring and uplifting.  Much of the scenery in it was quite simply stunning, and we felt that the story line was excellently presented and executed.  One really felt for each of the characters.  I was sorry when the film ended and I found myself wanting to know more . . .

A good friend of mine is actually doing this in a few months time, and I applaud her for her determination and tenacity . . . my prayers will be with her every step of the way.  I admire her for that.  I don't think it is something that I would ever be able to do myself, but in my heart I like to think that I could if I really put my mind into it . . .

Afterwards as Todd and I sat and talked about the film, it came to me that our lives are kind of like a pilgrimage aren't they???  We are all on a journey back to our Heavenly Father . . . and along the way we happen upon boulders or stumbling blocks . . . things which may cause us to falter and slow down, indeed some of us encounter things which may completely take us off the path entirely . . . but we keep moving forward don't we . . . because that is the only way we can go, the only way we are going to make it to the end.

Alone the way we have our "passports" stamped, and our souls are marked with lessons learned, and experience . . .  and obstacles conquered.  It is a pilgrimage taken in the heart . . . and hopefully at the end of the journey, as we fall into our Heavenly Father's loving arms,  our passports will be stamped with the words . . . "Well done my son (daughter) . . . well done."

See the film.  You will be touched and inspired.

Here's something that I put together yesterday morning. I am teaching a class on Thursday Evening at our church on "Creative Writing and Journaling." In our church we are taught that we should each journal our lives in some way . . . it may be through blogging, and then creating a book from our blogs, or by actually writing in a journal each day, keeping a diary, scrapbooking etc. I did this little journal book as an example to show the ladies how simple it can be and how easily done.  This one didn't cost very much and only took a few hours and it is basically the history of how our family came to be.

And then of course . . . like always, I cooked a bit.

In The English Kitchen today . . .  Easy Stovetop  Granola.  A delicious way of enjoying your oaty granola in the summertime without having to put on the oven.

Hope you all have a fabulous Wednesday!  Something to make you think the rest of the day:

"The test of thankfulness is not what you have to be thankful for, but whether anyone else has reason to be thankful that you are here."
~author unknown

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