Though I’m not really much of an outdoorsy person, I knew I wanted to read Hiking the Camino: 500 Miles with Jesus
as soon as my brother in Christ told me he was reading this book about a priest who goes on a walking pilgrimage across Spain as a way of thanking the Lord for his vocation as a priest.
I expected there to be some deep spiritual insights gleaned from more quiet time in nature than the average person usually has, and there are indeed plenty of those included which Fr. Dave Pivonka, T.O.R. had along the way. What I didn’t expect but absolutely love is that the tone and writing are so down-to-earth and genuine. More than once while reading Fr. Pivonka’s escapades and his subsequent reflections on them I was laughing right out loud, always something I appreciate in a book and in life.
The author’s very limited Spanish makes for some very amusing interactions with some of the locals he meets along the way. Plus, I loved the juxtaposition of really macho-sounding feats like running with the bulls alongside the stark reality that he was merely just walking with the cows. He also has some amusing epiphanies regarding the differences between men and women while he and Fr. Joe are on the trail and sharing rooms in albergues along the route with other pilgrims.
Reading this made me think of A Walk in the Woods not only because it’s another autobiographical book about a long hike made by someone who isn’t the professional mountain-climber type, but also due to the fact that in many ways the emotional highs and lows, mixed in with plenty of sarcasm and humility, and a smattering of meticulous detail was evident in Hiking the Camino: 500 Miles with Jesus.
Of course, adding the spiritual element made this book much more interesting to me. His quest for a closer relationship with Christ, his sincere desire to thank the Lord for his vocation as a priest, and his desire to grow in personal holiness are evident throughout the book in large and small observations about life, faith, people, and nature. The parallels to Scripture all flow quite naturally instead of being forced into the text at predetermined intervals whether they fit or not.
The conversational tone and steam-of-consciousness approach are perfect with someone who seems as friendly, funny, and humble as Fr. Pivonka does.
You can purchase this book here