Since medieval times, pilgrimages have been a popular religious or spiritual undertaking. Even today, between seventy and one hundred million people a year make pilgrimages, if not for expressly religious reasons, then for an alternative to secular goals and the preoccupation with consumption and entertainment characteristic of contemporary life. In "The Way of the Stars, " the journalist Robert Sibley, motivated at least in part by his own sense of discontent, recounts his walks on one of the most well-known pilgrimages in the Western world--the Camino de Santiago.
A medieval route that crosses northern Spain and leads to the town of Santiago de Compostela, the Camino has for hundreds of years provided for pilgrims the practice, the place, and the circumstances that allow for spiritual rejuvenation, reflection, and introspection. Sibley, who made the five-hundred-mile trek twice--initially on his own, and then eight years later with his son--offers a personal narrative not only of the outward journey of a pilgrim's experience on the road to Santiago but also of the inward journey afforded by an interlude of solitude and a respite from the daily demands of ordinary life. The month-long trip put the author on a path through his own memories, dreams, and self-perceptions as well as through the sights and sounds, the tastes and sensations, of the Camino itself.