However different we may be, we share our humanity and a common destiny on earth as we continue to shape and be shaped by our enviroment. As human beings we appreciate that essentially all our experience takes place in the landscape which at the same time enables and reflects all of life, both memorable and quotidian.
In our post-modern society, with its focus on technology and materialism, people have started to realise a need to discover their roots and true identity.
Singer/songwriter Ole Paus writes: "We have everything, but that's all we've got".
The pilgrim has reemerged in an age with strong division between body and soul, and extrinsic and intrinsic values. Rationalism has forced a wedge between spiritualism and materialism.
The ancient pilgrim routes, like music, is a universal language. The sensitive traveller of today will no doubt grasp the beauty of the whole; but what does it all mean to the unaccustomed or the untrained eye?
To the educated pilgrim, the ancient road is life itself. It is familiar and taken for granted until endangered, or lost. Knowledge about it road is intimate and intertwined with strong feelings. Others may have to begin via an analytic "tour de force" before developing a taste for its intricacies. Ultimately the traveller can catch glimpses in the slices of life represented in spiritual places that make up the landscape and then feel the richness of the meaning associated with them.
Our aim is to give you an idea in reading about the Norwegian pilgrim road.
First, let us be analytical. What is the pilgrim roads in a protestantic society made up of, anyway? That depends on your perspective. The road is history and culture reflected in the settlement pattern of farms, villages and cities; the sacred architecture and cultural artifacts marking the passage of time and important events. The road is also a mirror of ideology, fashion and impending change, foreshadowing the future and the problems it may pose. These different layers make up an elementary shell of the ancient roads.
In Norway you will experience much diversity in nature, culture and climate. This in itself may not be a challenge for many travellers.
But few countries like "Ultima Thule" can offer such immensity of empty space, beautiful vistas, lonely mountain tracks and vast forests, all unpolluted.
Perhaps the spiritual way to Trondheim is basically a pilgrimage into the space of artic nature. It gives the visitor a possibility to return to proportion, to something true and authentic. A challenge to experience "The empty mirror". The "desert" of the mountains reveals the desert in the pilgrim; the river, the living stream.
The foreigner may need some assistance to make sense of our otherwise entirely logical and beautiful roads and to perceive its unity and harmony just like a familiar face with all its different moods and expressions.