July 1, 2017 - A Stroll on the Beach -
There would be no long walks today. Jeff and I had to catch a train to Madrid at 4 pm. It gave us just enough time in to rent a car and drive to Finisterre (The end of the earth). Sam, Mark, and Annemarie were coming with us. Annemarie and I had talked about sharing a car to drive to the end of the earth several times as we walked. I saw her yesterday morning and we confirmed our plans. I was happy it was going to work out.
While we waited for Jeff to come around with the car, Sam took this photo of Annemarie and I on the plaza in front the Cathedral. It was the last time I would stand there on this trip and it seemed quite poetic to be standing next a person with whom I first stepped onto the Camino in St. Jean.
It was cloudy and over cast when we arrived in Finisterra, but we did not care. it was beautiful to be here. Emilie and Allison are still walking here from Santiago. They were joined by Emilie's parents when they arrived, and then continued walking together the next day. I looked for them among the pilgrims we passed as we made our way out here. Wouldn't it have been wonderful to have seen them and stopped. I would have loved to see the look on their faces. Alas, it was not to be.
One of the traditions associated with the Camion is for the pilgrims who continue on from Santiago, and walk the 90 km to Finsterre, to bath in the ocean, washing off the stink and cleansing away their sins. Jeff was the only one of us who entered the sea.
While Jeff took a dip in the ocean, the rest of us walk the length of the beach and into town. He said when he was done, he would bring the car around to the village to meet us.
The walk was was bitter sweet. It was wonderful to be here, to feel the restfulness of this place, but you knew the journey would now be measured in minutes and hours, not days and weeks.
We searched for scallop shells along the shore, talked about what we were feeling, and playfully jumped over a small stream which divided the beach. These would be some of the last memories we would make in Spain.
I knew my friend Franziska was in Finsterre. As we made our way through town to meet Jeff, I keep an eye out for her. Not having any way to contact her, I was disappointed not to see her. After finding Jeff, we went into a grocery store and bought supplies for a picnic we planned to have at the lighthouse at the end of the peninsula. By the time we climbed back into the care, I had given up hope of seeing her.
To my delight, when we climbed out of the car at the lighthouse, Franziska was standing there. It was a unexpected gift, like much of what I experienced on the Camino. She accepted our invitation to join us. Once again, we broke bread, shared a glass of vino and simply enjoyed one another's company.
They tell me the Camino will call you back. Honestly, I think it is the people I met and walked with who make me want to return. The shared experience of the kindness, generosity, laughter, discovery, encouragement, suffering, acceptance, being known, being seen and feeling loved knits hearts together in a way our busy lives seldom allow. Each and every person I walked with was a beautiful gift to be treasured. Because of them, I will return.
I started the Camino with the idea it would be an physical expression of an internal/spiritual journey. Some of what I discovered has been shared here, but a more complete telling of what this journey has given voice to is contained in my book, The Good Way, Walking an Old Road to a New Life. You can find it on Amazon.
I have also written a contemplative journal to help you discover and write your own story. It is called, The Ascent to Santiago: A Contemplative Journal For Those Walking the Way of St. James. If you are planning to walk the Camino, you might want to consider taking it with you. It can also be found on Amazon.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I you have gotten this far, I trust the investment of your time was worthwhile.