Day 32 - Bittersweet

Day 32 – Bittersweet

Santiago CathedralI attended noon mass today. It was an exhausting event. I´m not sure why exactly, but fellow pilgrims have reported the same feeling.

We went our own ways for the afternoon and I walked the streets of Santiago, looking at shops and buildings, and thought a lot. I did a quick run on a city bus to the bus station to pick up tickets for my trip to Finisterre. I went back to the hotel to relax, send some e-mail, and look at the news of the world. Everything seemed to run so fast around me, and soon it was time to met for dinner.

I met Morag, Peter, Danny, Keith, and Keith’s wife Alice at the parador for a drink. We then moved back to the cathedral where Morag, who is also a United Minster, had at our request put together a small devotion. She touched on how pilgrims never really stop being pilgrims and that the reason for our pilgrimages are not easily understood. She read a poem that is painted on the a concrete wall along the Camino. Here it is:

Dust, mud, sun and rain
Is the Camino de Santiago.
Thousands of pilgrims
And more than a thousand years.
Pilgrim, who calls you?
What hidden force attracts you?
Not the field of the stars;
Nor the grand cathedrals.
It is not the courage of Navarra,
Nor the wine of the Riochas
Nor the seafood of Galicia
Nor the plains of Castile.
Pilgrim, who calls you?
What hidden force attracts you?
It is not the people of the Camino
Nor the rural customs.
It is not the history and culture
It is not the cock of La Calzada
Nor the palace of Gaudi
Nor the Ponferrada Castle.
I see them all as I pass
And it is a delight to see everything;
But the voice that calls to me
I feel much more deeply.
The force which pushes me,
The force which attracts me
I cannot explain it.
Only He who is above knows it.


Santiago CathedralShe then read some of John Bunyan´s Pilgrims Progress. We then just sat for a while. Finally, in true pilgrim spirit, we noticed we were hungry and we set off for dinner.

We had a fine meal and two nice bottles of Gallician wine. Finally, our bill paid, we moved to see the cathedral as it is beautifully lit at night. We were lucky to have a group of minstrels entertaining people sheltered from the rain. Slowly, we drifted apart and said our farewells.

I’m not sure if I will every met these people again and I will miss them. We have helped each other, accepted help from each other, laughed and sang together, and  provided emotional support when needed. We had our time together on this strange road that we have walked and we will always have the stories that will come from them.

Santiago Cathedral at NightAs I look over my right shoulder through the window of my hotel, I can see the illuminated spires of the cathedral against the dark night sky and I can softly hear the 11:00 bells. It is time to sleep.

I will miss the quiet walking with companions, and on my own. I will miss the laughs, the conversations, and the quiet moments walking with companions, and on my own. I will even miss the adversity, the pain, and the doubts as I think all of these make up the experience that is the Camino de Santiago. This is an experience that I do not think I could forget, even if I wanted to. It will no doubt leave its mark on my in way plain and hidden. But change me it has. I will dearly miss the Camino and the friends I have made along the way.

Tomorrow I will bus to Finisterre to see the ocean. I have a stone to drop into the waves for a good friend; and after all, I always wanted to reach the end of the earth I will then return to Santiago one last time to catch my train to Madrid where I will at last see my family. I can´t wait to see them again.

Good night from Santiago de Compostela.

Soundscape: Snippet of Mass in Santiago (large file)

Soundscape: Santiago Minstrals