The last few days, from the moment I stepped out of the albergue in Arca toward Santiago, have passed with a serge of emotions I cannot explain. So I wanted to wait awhile so I could gather my thoughts. Our hearts were beating fast in anticipation of our arrival in Santiago, our destination for this journey. We passed a town called Lavacolla where ancient pilgrims stopped and washed themselves in the river to purify their bodies before entering Santiago. Today an array of modern housing developments have reduced the river into a small stream and of course, any kind of washing is prohibited. Nonetheless, J and I paused a few moments on a street and prayed…..Asperges me; wash us O Lord; pure and white like snow and gentle and loving like your heart.
We contined onward through the frosted fields of Lavacolla and found ourselves climbing Monte Gozo, the Mountain of Joy where ancient pilgrims caught the first sight of the Cathedral of Santiago. I thought for sure I wiould cry when we reached the cathedral. I thought for sure that my emotions would serge after walking 34 days but I was actually as calm as a placid ocean. Or, should I say I was numb, unable to express how I was feeling. I watched J kneeling down front of the cathedral; I watched many of pilgrims shouting for joy, exchanging hugs and congratulating each other but I was unable to say or do anything at all. I quickly climbed up the stairs and into the cathedral, found a pew and knelt down and stayed there for a very long time. The next three days passed by, doing some planning on how we should go about the next leg of our journey. J and I talked about our need to walk on further to Finisterre and Muxia. The only reason I could find to justify the trip was that I just did not feel that this jouney would be completed until we reached Finisterre, the end of the earth.
When we set out for Negreira on January 24th, our first stop on the Camino Fisterre, I felt I was picking up a cold, and by the next day, during a 36K walk to Olveiroa, I was under its grip. Nevertheless, we pushed on and reached Finisterre on the 27th. On our way up to the Faro, the light house at Finisterre, another 3.5K hike up a hill, J stopped for a few pictures but I did not. Tears were streaming down on my face, a sense of happiness mixed with a sense of helplessness overcame me. Now what, Lord? I traveled over so many hills and valleys to feel closer to You. I am here now. What do I need to do and where do I need to go? In that feeling of chaos, I thought about the many miles we walked and the many people we have encountered during this Camino. “We begin this Camino as walkers but return home as pilgrims”; “I am definitely not doing this for religious reasons but I would like myself to be changed somehow, at the end of this Camino”; “I was doing what people wanted me to do for last 27 years. I want to find myself and that is the reason I am here”; “Me! I am working on me and that is the best thing I have ever done in my whole life!”; “Camino provides. Don´t worry but just start walking”. These are some of the words I heard from my fellow pilgrims on the road. I also thought about what would the pilgrims of old, from many centries ago would say to me. I stood on a rock, at the end of the earth, looking at the far horizon while bracing against the gusty wind, I thought for sure I heard them say, “be still”, “you are the result of our longing”. I felt a smile spreading across my face. Perhaps, I now know. But then Lord, will I have ears to hear You?