I walked to Santiago from France in 37 days! Truly an amazing, blessed, joyful, and insightful pilgrimage.
My arrival day had been long – from 8:00am to 5:00pm – of nearly constant walking. My fitbit watch reported 22 miles, and my hips felt like each of my legs could simply disengage from the body. Nevertheless my spirit soared! This pilgrimage has been an accomplishment of the body, mind, and spirit. Video of my arrival here.
Here is my backpack with my angel Mary who rides along with me, the pins I’ve purchased along the Way, and my Camino shell. All pilgrims carry a shell, a symbol of being a pilgrim.
When I first noticed a couple days ago that my shell had a chip I felt a loss. Then a strong feeling embraced me that it’s important to lose something, to break something – particularly in our consciousness or in some troubling inner attachment. To arrive at Santiago with a chip in my shell, a throw-it-away-I-don’t-need-you-anymore piece gone, but yet also arrive with a joyful smile, is a grand accomplishment! I’ve had 37 days to give thought to many, many things… finding myself now, at the end, lighter in spirit.
I located the monestary across from the cathedral, where I will spend two nights in an old monk cell converted to a small rental room. The space is only barely wider than the bed, with a private bathroom. The view from my fourth floor room is to the old city. The room is such a delight for this pilgrim who has slept in mixed dorms with 4-20 people each night, including having two encounters with bedbugs! But more than the physical comforts of the private room, I love the vibration of the monestary, which has already lent itself to lovely meditations in my nice little room.
After settling in I ventured out again to see the cathedral, arriving just as people were assembling for the evening 7:30 Pilgrim’s Mass. What grace that I arrived then! Two really neat ladies from Portland, whom I met 10 days ago after León, spotted me and invited me to sit with them. The Mass was in Spanish, and a beautiful way to end the 37 days of pilgrimage. How blessed I felt in the magnificence of it all! Here is a short video of the Hallelujah song with the organ.
And the pièce de résistance! The swinging of the botafumeiro, which doesn’t happen at every Mass. It is the largest thurible in Christendom. Thrilling! It really catches the spirit when rising high to the lofty cathedral ceiling, flames leaping. Video here.
(Shell and Camino cross in the cathedral wall motif, ceiling, main golden altar with a golden bust of St. James, and the view of the altar from where I sat with the thurible hanging from the ceiling.)
I got my Compostela early this morning, along with my certificate of distance from St Jean Pied de Port. I did it! How exhilerating.
I was also one of the lucky seven recipients (out of many thousands of pilgrims per day to get a Compostela) to be given a free Pilgrim lunch at the posh restaurant at the cathedral. It’s an ancient tradition to feed the pilgrims, so they still do it, but only a few per day! Magnificent lunch, another of those “Camino provides” sort of blessings.
I love hearing from you, comments below.
My Camino Walk has been a fundraiser to build a new Temple of Light. Now having completed 500 miles (800km) walking, I very much welcome your generous gift to help with the Temple construction. All donations are tax-deductible, no amount is too small. Many blessings!
*This article is a re-post from Sing to the Wind, the travel blog of Sitabai Betts.