Monday, October 23rd 2017

Destination, Santiago de Compostela

The end of a Spanish pilgrimage

We arrived home last night  in the middle of the night, about 3:30 AM after a long, long wait in JFK. This morning we are basking in the luxury of simple things: our privacy, plenty of hot water, our garden, our stereo, and yeah gads, so many choices of things to wear. (Three shirts and two pair of slacks saw me through 30 days). I carried prayer intentions for many of you and in Santiago, actually placed them on the thirteenth-century statue of St. James on the high alter in the Cathedral. I also placed “stones” for your intentions at crosses and other places along the way.

As we walked the Camino, I kept wondering how I could ever capture or explain the experience. In the long hours of the journey home, I tried to put a few thoughts into words, knowing they would be inadequate, but at least giving you a glimpse of what it meant to us.

–First and foremost, the Camino was a great expression of love, charity. We were continually touched by kindnesses, great and small shown to us by the Spaniards and by the other pilgrims.

–The Camino remains a great expression of faith. The rocks placed by pilgrims along the way, the flowers, the hearts, the crosses gave the journey an other worldly dimension.The way has been made holy by generations of pilgrims. Those walking the Camino are not tourists,but rather seekers. The journey has a higher purpose. More than a journey of self discovery, walking the Camino is going beyond the self.

–Part of walking the Camino is the breathtaking beauty of the landscape: mountains, flowers, vineyards, farms, ancient churches, ruins, more flowers, flowers everywhere.

–Then too, there is the physical and mental challenge of the journey. Everyone struggles, suffers, limps,enduring wind, rain, mud, blisters, cold, heat. We shared a sense of community of purpose with the other struggling pilgrims from all over the world, even when we could only communicate in sign language.

–On the Camino, you leave behind most of the baggage of your life: your wardrobe, jewelry, makeup, computers, phones, financial status, career. You have walked all day on the Camino. Your feet are sore, your hair is a mess, your shoes and slacks, mud stained. You are exhausted. Yet somehow you have made it through another day.

–Overall, the pilgrimage leaves one with hope. The way was filled with so much love, so many prayers, so much spiritual and physical energy, how can this ever be destroyed? By walking the Camino we joined hands and hearts with all those pilgrims who have gone before us since the 9th Century and all those that will follow us. We have become part of a great stream of believers in life.

Phyllis the Pilgrim

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