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By John Kirwan

John Kirwan was once the most devastating wingers New Zealand, and global, rugby had ever obvious. A sought after and respected determine on the sunrise of the pro age of rugby, he looked as if it would dwell a charmed lifestyles. not anyone knew, notwithstanding, that in the back of closed doorways 'JK' used to be dwelling a lifetime of tormented worry. bothered with melancholy for a few years - together with these as a high-profile sportsman - Kirwan used to be in a position to live to tell the tale through attaining out, looking support from these closest to him. All Blacks Don't Cry is John Kirwan's tale of desire, of operating throughout the discomfort and residing a whole existence - a poignant, inspirational and useful instance for anyone scuffling with melancholy. 'I've been to hell and I'm again. If you're in that very same position, then I comprehend what you're going through.'

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From the modern point of view of the “curious” pilgrim, the pilgrimage is an intensely internal experience in an intensely physical context in which the journey, more than the destination, is the goal. But it’s also something more than that. People instinctively want something to believe in, whether they believe in anything much or not. From the medieval perspective, the pilgrimage was undertaken for the very specific reason that the great physical hardships of pain, hunger, thirst, exposure to the elements, and general loss of comfort and of all that’s familiar are con- 38 ducive to inducing a mental state eminently suited for the spiritual exercise that the pilgrimage fundamentally was and can still be—to a certain extent, the adoption of monastic spiritual practices in the non-monastic medium of the visitation of a holy site: this was the purpose of such a long and grueling journey.

I hadn’t expected this. I had begun the pilgrimage with calluses on my feet that a Marine would be proud of, the result of long, hard training in the semi-desert of southern California. The trail, however, was as tough as my calluses, and I got blisters under the calluses, where they couldn’t be pierced, an excruciating experience that would go on and on until the next full day of hiking in the rain, when the whole thing would explode into an unrecognizable mass of overlapping layers of shredded epidermis and revealed blister upon revealed blister, like so many strata in an archaeological site, penetrating to depths I had thought impossible before.

In the same way that a nonreligious person can listen with sensitivity to a Gregorian chant or read an unusually evocative passage of medieval religious prose or verse, he or she can, to a degree, still experience the pilgrimage. But there still has to be a culmination to such an experience. And to me, that culmination was not Santiago itself. This was despite the Compostela and the stunning Pilgrims’ Mass, which took place in the cathedral in a setting of sensory saturation so great that the eye hardly knew which way to look first— unless it was at the near-pagan spectacle of the botafumeiro, a giant, solid silver censer weighing 120 pounds that’s swung from the ceiling in front of the high altar and that takes eight men to set into motion in its 180-foot arc through the transepts, a spectacle that causes the crowd to break into spontaneous oohs, ahhs, cheers, and wild applause, even though they are warned by the priests ahead of time to control themselves.

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