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A Cathartic Walk

Walking is cathartic.

Somewhere I read a comment saying that walking was cathartic.

To be sure I understood the comment correctly, I looked up the meaning online. defines catharsis as “a purifying or figurative cleansing of the emotions” or “a release of emotional tension, as after an overwhelming experience that restores or refreshes the spirit.” defines catharsis as “the purging of the emotions or relieving emotional tension.” defines catharsis as “purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art.”

Walking is a time for self-reflection or an inner journey. Walkers have time to think and release. Have you ever gone out for a walk, just to clear your head, get rid of some stress, or to think things through? I call it getting lost in your head or getting lost in your thoughts. This thoughtful walking is cathartic because it gives the walker an opportunity to rid themselves of a burden, to free themselves.

The Camino de Santiago, I suppose, is the ultimate cathartic walk. Many medieval pilgrims walked to Santiago seeking penance, healing, or answers to prayers. Christians visited the holy site to reduce their time in purgatory, especially during Holy Years, the years in which the feast of Saint James, July 25, falls on a Sunday. During this year, the Holy Door of a Catholic Church grants the sinner plenary indulgence provided they confess their sins, take Holy Communion, and recite the proper prayers. These Christians can skip purgatory and go directly into heaven.

It was also common for the judiciary to sentence the guilty to walk to Santiago as their punishment.

Another cathartic moment can be a visit to the Cruz de Ferro, a steel cross placed at the top of a 16-foot wooden poll. Traditionally, pilgrims would bring a small stone from home to leave at the base of the cross. They may also leave photos, written notes, or religious symbols. In quiet reflection, they pray for the release of their burdens. Just a few days walk from Santiago, this is a good time to reflect on why you walk. Use this as a cathartic moment.

There are some modernization plans for this historic holy site bringing about a petition in opposition to the change. Changes include a parking lot, an area for motorhomes, a rest area, and a pedestrian avenue lined on each side with cypress trees. These changes will replace the simplistic gravel walkway to the mound of stones at the base of the cross. If you are interested in signing this petition, please visit

Buen Camino

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It has been a few days since I’ve posted anything on my blog. My apologies. It’s just very tedious for me to try to type out everything on a cell phone. I do post photographs every day on my Facebook

1 Comment

Hey John, I am very excited for you! This seems like a wonderfully life affirming trek to undertake! I enjoyed reading the three blog entries and look forward to more. Take care and stay safe. Bernie

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