The stories we tell each other are important. So much more important than we understand, specially the story of a preacher who died some 2,000 years ago that we take to granted because it's so pedestrian.
Stories are how we transmit our culture from one generation to another, through stories be they novels, poetry, music or song.
Spain is full of stories, ancient stories of conquest and takeover and subjugation and jubilation and of heroic Christians and evil moors, of saints and sinners and paltry miracles and miraculous everyday acts of banality.
Commemorations to these are everywhere, usually they're commemorations of the victorious over the vanquished. They're everywhere back home too, usually of the colonisers subjugating and colonising the unwilling and unrepentant.
It's funny, this catholic pilgrimage, there certainly is some sort of - let's call it energy - about it. There are thousands of us, millions of us over the centuries, all walking in the same direction to visit the grave of a man, James the Greater (Santiago in Spanish) who allegedly walked with the one true Jesus Christ, that carpenter from Judea you may be familiar with.
Jesus of Nazareth was a carpenter, if you didn't know. Isn't that remarkable?
I don't mean that Jesus the divine figure of myth and fairy tale was remarkable but what is truly remarkable was that Jesus the son of Mary and Joseph, the brother of James, was a carpenter and the son of a carpenter.
Out of all the stories that we tell each other about who we are. The heroes that we exalt and the enemies we create subconsciously by consciously telling each other of our great victories, it's the story of a Palestinian Jew that should be the most interesting to us.
The stories we tell each other, the stories of our heroes are interesting and exciting enough. the heroes of our culture have always exhibited these incredible characteristics that none of us or not many of us have or could ever hope to have whether it's sheer brute strength or genius beyond compare or prodigy for the arts or a creative mind. Our heroes are not like us, and that's why we exalt them. They're not meant to be average and approachable, they're meant to set a standard.
We tell each other stories of their magnanimity in battle or their absolute genius for science or their incredible sacrifice for the public good or their selfless pursuit of wisdom and knowledge but implicit or explicitly we tell each other these stories not because we too can achieve such feats but because we can't.
And yet, this whole Camino is full of and in fact, is largely dedicated to visiting places that pay devotion and fielty to a poor Jewish carpenter from the Roman province of Judea who was born (and conceived naturally, like the rest of us) in a manger.
In fact, this everyday everyman is the hero of choice for many of our own heroes. This poor, radical, and charismatic preacher that asked people to love each other above and beyond anything else is the hero of many of our heroes. Remarkable when you think about it.
I find it humbling, touching in fact that kings everywhere have knelt before the statue of a poor carpenter several times a day. A man that spent his last moments being brutally tortured and was ultimately punished and killed in the manner of a common thief, just to further prove his paupacity.
Even though Jesus Christ, of Nazareth in Judea was not the son of god he had a radical message: To love one another, to forgive and ask for forgiveness, to be humble and meek because it is in these characteristics that we can find strength.
If there is a hero that we have taken for granted because of his ubiquity is Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary and Joseph, brother of James and self proclaimed son of god. He does not need to be nor do we need to believe that he was the son of god, any god, for us to heed his message.
Because as it was some 2,000 years ago, it is still a radical concept. Jesus may not have even existed, James may not be buried at Santiago de Compostela but the message from a poor carpenter from roman Judea should still resonate, not because he was a kingly figure sent to save us all, but because he was not.
The only crown Jesus wore was of thorns and was inflicted on him to mock him. He had no riches, he was a carpenter born in a manger. And every day, everywhere, millions stop to kneel before the statue of a carpenter that asked for nothing but for us to love one another.
Now, that's a story.