There seems also to be a strange relationship between the spiritual and the physical. To challenge the physical dimension, by denying the usual tendency to indulge the needs and desires of the body, can allow the spiritual space in which to grow. Clearly there is not an inevitable connection between hardship and spiritual growth but the growth of the spirit can come in such a way. Christians sometimes refer to this connection as the mortification of the flesh.
The same kind of idea lies behind the concept of penance. At one level it would seem ridiculous for the creator of the universe to require a truly repentent person to undergo physical hardship. Yet the spiritual does not always operate at the purely cerebral level. The experience of physical hardship and even pain can be therapeutic from a psychological and spiritual perspective. Many of those who go on pilgrimage embrace the hardships as a legitimate part of the experience and not merely as an inconvenience. Thus for some, the physical encounter is at least in part a matter of penance. For many it is a stimulus towards spiritual growth.
From Sacred Places, Pilgrim Paths: An Anthology Of Pilgrimage by MARTIN ROBINSON.
I mixed with loose women in Reno/ In Vegas I hit the casino/I lied and I cheated/But now my sins are deleted/I've absolved them all on the Camino!
The photo shows my Créanciale, or Credancial, or pilgrim passport.