Whenever I fly anywhere, as the plane revs up and charges down the runway for take off, I offer a litany of thanksgiving. I simply name the people I love and cherish and all the many things I have to be thankful for. And I think to myself, well, if the plane does crash I want to die with praise and thanksgiving on my lips. Walking the last 20km into Santiago today, I offered a much longer litany of thanksgiving, and tried to remember all the many people through whom I had received blessings in my life, and asked God’s blessing upon them. All of you were prayed for.
The first hour was again in the dark. The sunrise was beautiful. I suppose it always is. And stopping by the side of the road to say morning prayer, with my rucksack at my side a robin came and perched on it and sat there while I prayed for maybe at least a minute. It was just a foot or so away from me. Other pilgrims tiptoed past and marveled at this little robin, as I did too.
There was still one or two more fairly steep Hill is to navigate, but then about midday Santiago came into view and after a long walk through the suburbs I arrived outside the cathedral at just after 1:30 PM and 25 days on the road. It took me one circumference of the cathedral to find the entrance, and I bumped in to the young German couple, Felix and Isabel, who I had walked with on the first week. They were one day head of me and arrived yesterday they pointed me in the right direction. I had to leave my rucksack outside. There is a shop that will look after them for a small price. I went into the cathedral and offered another prayer of thanksgiving: for safe traveling and for blessings received.
In the afternoon I found the little Pensione where I am staying, and then at five met with other pilgrims who had walked the Camino Del Norte and we took a photograph of that sells outside the front of the cathedral. With Barry, the priest from Ireland, I went and hugged the statue of Saint James and also prayed before what are purported to be his relics. I went to the pilgrim mass in the cathedral at 7:30 PM, and in many ways this felt more like the ending of my pilgrimage than walking into the Cathedral at lunchtime.
My pilgrimage began with the Eucharist in my little chapel at Bishopscourt, and it ended here, also around the table.
I had dinner with Martin and Kees from Holland and Manuel from Columbia – fish soup and then steak. Coffee and a very large Brandy to follow.
None of us can quite believe we have walked all this way, and there is a slight sense of anti-climax about the arrival; but of course pilgrimage is about traveling.