We have completed our Camino! We arrived in Santiago de Compostela on the 4th of July. We laughed as we approached the Cathedral because in every other city you could see the Cathedral from far away, but in Santiago we really could never see it until we were right there.
One of our Camino friends was in the square and got up and greeted us and took this picture.
We walked for 34 days and reached our destination. And we were ready to stop walking! But not before we picked up the package we mailed here with our pack travel covers and Debbie’s dress – Jerry did that – and after a bit of searching found where to get our certificates at the pilgrim’s office. We didn’t get to our Albergue until after 5pm, but we had run into a number of our Camino friends and celebrated with them.
On Thursday the 5th we had planned to go to the Pilgrim’s Mass at Noon and then to lunch with the teachers and the 3 women from the Midwest who became our Camino Family. But they also had an English Mass at 10am in the Cathedral in a side chapel. Inside the chapel the main statue was of Our Lady of Sorrows! Her feast day is my birthday, and I felt like she was just there for me! I will forever more feel that connection with her. It was a small group of pilgrims for the Mass, maybe 30 or so, but we filled the little chapel. They asked for volunteers to help with the liturgy, and I was able to be an extraordinary minister of the cup, the only time I have seen the cup given in Spain! They also allowed us to offer petitions and light a candle for them to put in front of the altar if we wanted, so I prayed for our Parish, and for all the parishes of those present that God would make them Parishes of True Discipleship. It was a beautiful Mass and I was practically in tears before it was over.
Then we sat in the main Cathedral, lit a candle for our family, and waited for our friends and the Pilgrim Mass. We all found one another and had lovely seats for the Mass in Spanish and were rewarded with the swinging of the Botafumeiro or the huge thurible which swings from ceiling to ceiling with incense right over our heads. It isn’t always done so we felt very fortunate to experience it! We had a wonderful lunch together which began on the plaza, but was moved indoors as it sprinkled. We shared contact information for our homes and said goodbye to the girls who were flying to Paris and then home.
We took the last leg of the Camino via bus to Finisterre on Friday. Here we will rest, recover – we are still a bit exhausted – and reflect. Our 3 older Camino family members rented a car and were already here in the area. They met us for dinner, and drove us to the lighthouse where we had dessert and then sat on the rocks to watch the sunset at the point that was considered the end of the world. We felt incredibly blessed by each of these people and experiences!
(Jerry’s note): Something that really struck me is just how many different people you meet and speak with—and all this conversation immersed in hours of personal silence. You never really know if you’ll ever see any of the pilgrims again so you learn to be simply present to each encounter in a non-possessive way.
I find myself needing to sleep a lot after so much walking. For those interested in numbers, we averaged 14.7 miles a day with two days around 18.4 miles.
After some rest it will be time to further digest the experience. God has been gracious and many things have come to mind over these days. Now comes the part of integrating what we learned into our daily lives.