Martin Sheen’s new movie, "The Way," is just about to release in cinemas. In it, the self-confessed “radical Catholic” stars as a father who goes on pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago – or "Way of St. James" – following the death of his son, played by his real-life son, Emilio Estevez.
The Camino de Santiago is a real route, journeyed by more than 100,000 pilgrims each year and it’s a route Sheen is familiar with, having traveled it – albeit by car – with his grandson Taylor and close friend, Matt Clark, in 2003.
His pilgrimage piqued the interest of Estevez who started putting pen to paper and the result is a film that deals with the grief and sorrow experienced by people in their lives and their inner journeys to find healing.
“The Camino was filled with broken people who were suffering great loss and were in need of healing, which is very typical, because again, the Camino is metaphor for life,” Sheen told Christianity Magazine.
“Everyone is looking for an effort to unite the will of the spirit to the work of the flesh. That’s what all of our lives are about, whether we’re conscious of it or not," he added.
“All of us seek transcendence, and that’s why people walk the Camino. Pilgrimages are an effort to touch the sacred in our lives.”
Needless to say the film contains deeply spiritual themes. He went on to explain in the interview that it is about the search of each person on earth, whether they believe in God or not, for that “moment of clarity” when they realize that they are loved.
In that sense, "The Way" is also deeply human, exploring the brokenness of the heart and the process inside of each person to come to terms with that.
“You see it (knowledge of being loved) in them, or you see the absence of love in them. You see it in people who don’t believe they are loved, or don’t know they are loved, or have not embraced their brokenness, their darkness – they’re still living in the shadow self,” Sheen said.
“When you see the light, and it’s so clear, so obvious, you see someone who knows they are loved and they reflect love in return. Those that are broken, heal, and heal others. That’s the journey of love. That’s the journey of the Camino.”
How does Sheen know he is loved? For him, it lies in the “genius of God” who chose to be human, small and broken.
“That makes me realize I am healed, here in this reality, and I can heal others.”