Andrew McCarthy Wrote a Book About a Father-Son Pilgrimage. His Son Gets His Say.

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Q. And A.

Sam McCarthy accompanied his begetter connected the Camino de Santiago and is featured successful his father’s caller memoir, but what did helium deliberation of it? The brace sermon their achievement.

Andrew McCarthy wears a straw chapeau  and holds a walking instrumentality   and stands adjacent  to his lad   Sam who has touseled hairsbreadth  and is squinting into the sun. A ungraded  way  leads into the region  down  them.
Andrew McCarthy, left, and his lad Sam intermission determination adjacent Leon connected their monthlong trek. Credit...Sam McCarthy

May 17, 2023, 5:00 a.m. ET

In the ninth century, the Catholic Church announced that the remains of the apostle James had been discovered successful the acold occidental scope of the Iberian Peninsula, astatine what would go the municipality of Santiago de Compostela. It further declared that anyone consenting to marque a pilgrimage to the spot would person plenary indulgences, oregon the remission of punishment for their sins. The faithful came running, er, walking. The Camino de Santiago sprang into beingness and has been traversed, with varying degrees of popularity, ever since.

The Camino passes implicit the Pyrenees Mountains and bisects desolate plains; it leads done villages of a fewer twelve inhabitants and sizable cities (Pamplona, León). Often nether blistering sun.

I archetypal walked this way a quarter-century ago. There was nary spiritual telephone to my walk, but similar truthful galore pilgrims done the ages, the Camino produced successful maine a transformative — situation I accidental spiritual? — experience. I’d ever wanted to instrumentality to the Camino and successful the summertime of 2021, I invited my past 19-year-old son, Sam McCarthy, to articulation me. Sam, an histrion and a autochthonal New Yorker who has appeared successful specified shows arsenic “Dead to Me” connected Netflix, amazed maine by saying yes. We arrived successful Spain successful precocious July and walked done a scorching August to Santiago de Compostela. And then, portion I sat my weary assemblage down, Sam continued on, for 50 much miles to the sea, ending his travel successful the colony of Finisterre.

I’ve written a book, “Walking With Sam: A Father, a Son, and Five Hundred Miles Across Spain,” that tells the communicative of our travel from my perspective, but what did it mean for him? Why would a teen accidental yes to a period of walking with his father?

“It didn’t truly consciousness similar a large decision,” said Sam. “It was thing you’d ever talked about, and it intrigued maine — the thought of walking crossed a country. I didn’t consciousness like, ‘Oh, present I’m going to locomotion and bash this happening with my dada truthful we tin get closer.’ It wasn’t truly similar that for me.”

“But I’d accidental it did gully america closer,” I said.

“Of course,” helium said.

This speech has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Before you acceptable retired connected thing similar the Camino, astatine slightest for me, the thought of completing it oregon finishing felt benignant of amorphous. I didn’t cognize what to expect. But there’s a large spot that comes with an accomplishment similar doing the walk. It’s benignant of unshakable. It’s a tangible happening that you completed that can’t beryllium taken distant from you. I accidental for the archetypal clip I gained a consciousness of doing thing hard that had seemed a spot incomprehensible. I mean, there’s a elevation and it’s truthful acold away, and past I get to the hill, and past I locomotion to the apical and past disconnected successful the region there’s different and it’s ace acold away. And past I get to it and past I get to the top, and past there’s different till you scope somewhere. And that gives you, I don’t know, a benignant of ownership that can’t beryllium explained away.

Yes, I did. I recovered it difficult, physically, for the archetypal two, 2 and a fractional weeks, and past for the past fewer I felt similar I could locomotion 2 much countries.

Because what’s the constituent successful conscionable going to Santiago?

Yeah, but I wasn’t a spiritual pilgrim. That wasn’t a happening for me. It was ever talked astir arsenic a locomotion crossed Spain, and past you’re stopping 90 percent of the way? Why would I conscionable stop?

OK, well, that’s your thing. I wanted to spot the ocean.

It was the full experience. It’s benignant of indescribable, and I deliberation trying to speech astir it is weird due to the fact that the words successful the English connection can’t truly — not that it was specified an intergalactically profound experience, though it was profound. It’s conscionable much similar I don’t cognize however 1 would truly picture it. I accidental the item was the authorities of being that you enter. And sure, reaching Finisterre, but I’m not definite finishing should beryllium the point.

There was a saying connected the Camino that you didn’t recognize oregon truly attraction astir that I loved, “Walk, don’t reach.”

It means conscionable walk. Don’t beryllium reasoning astir wherever you person to beryllium next. Don’t beryllium grasping for a decorativeness line. Just beryllium present arsenic opposed to reaching for what’s up successful 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 weeks from now. It’s not an archetypal thought. But you know, possibly I had benignant of mislaid myself earlier the Camino, and I conjecture you saw that. People spell to effort to find themselves again. You locomotion and locomotion and locomotion and it’s like, americium I implicit here? Am I implicit here? And it’s similar no, I’m close present this full time.

Yes, yes.

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