Pilgrimage in Terror: Walking Away from Terrorism
Disillusioned with protesting against the 'War on Terror', Katie, 31, set off to hike the Camino in Northern Spain. As she walked, she re-connected with wiser parts of Western traditional thought, both Christian and pagan, and found that peace begins at home - inside ourselves. More
The West’s declaration of a ‘War on Terror’ in 2001, following the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, transformed me overnight from an apolitical bohemian writer-teacher into a political activist orchestrating a striking weekly protest on the steps of St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. A year later, faced with the impotence of these demonstrations, I turned to pilgrimage, the ‘Camino’, a mediaeval pilgrim route from the Pyrenees to the Atlantic, to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela.
The mediaeval pilgrims hoped that their walk and their devotions at the shrine of Saint James would shorten their time in purgatory, the unpleasant place you had to go to get cleansed before being allowed to enter heaven.
Being an agnostic, my hopes were more vague, but possibly even more ambitious. I wanted to find ways to talk about ‘not killing’ that would make it seem like it mattered whether we killed or not; and I wanted to work out how to live and feel about life against an ongoing backdrop of war.
On the road I made friends, gained perspectives from the historic Islamo-Christian conflicts of Spain and felt that I met God. Here are my experiences and thoughts as I wrote them over ten years ago.
As we continue to bomb Islamic countries and suffer the terror of terrorism, fifteen years on from ‘9/11’, I hope this book may provide some comfort to the protesters, as it did to me, walking and writing; and for those who believe in continuing to do battle ‘against terror’, maybe some insight into how we, the other half, think and feel!
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