As an ordinary person, I started my first pilgrimage and asked myself: How do you become a pilgrim?
I don't have the right answer, but the realization: the way makes you a pilgrim!
As I slowly walked forward to the altar in one of the great cathedrals, I felt that this way forward can be seen as a symbolic pilgrimage. The path leads to God. Pilgrimage consciously leads you to God.
We are always on the way, starting with the first step we take until the last. We each walk our own path, throughout our lives. As prisoners in time, we can't help but be on our way in life. On the path of life, we carry a lot of ballast. We accumulate possessions and increase our possessions. We hunt for the improvement of the quality of life. Ultimately, we search for happiness. Can we find it in the rush of consumption?
In pilgrimage, we walk our path very, very consciously. Since we have to carry our possessions, we try to keep our baggage to a minimum. All ballast only disturbs. This is a first realization for any novice pilgrim. How little one can get by with! Now sharing also becomes easier. For example, if I have bought too much cake, I share it with my fellow pilgrims. I can't and don't want to carry it any further anyway.
Let's look at the pilgrims: Don't they look satisfied?
The pilgrimage helps in the search for happiness on another much simpler level. The question is whether it can be found at the destination in Santiago. Certainly it is an uplifting feeling to arrive there after the long walk. The real goal is not yet there. Happiness is on the way. For those who find it, pilgrimage becomes life and their life becomes a pilgrimage.
The painting "James as a pilgrim in a cruel end-time world" comes from the left wing outside of Hieronimus Bosch's World Judgment Triptych and is in the Picture Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.