Our last day on the road. I wanted to savour it all. Leaving in darkness. Walking through forests with only the moon and stars (and then the light of an iPhone) to guide us. Having to trust that the earth will be there under your next step. Feeling you are entering another world or dimension. Watching the sun rise over the eucalyptus forests. The mist. The smell. The colours. It is a truly beautiful day. A perfect day. All is perfect. But walking into the city of Santiago and it's cathedral ... It was surreal and surprisingly emotionless. Vlad and my family awaited me and it was great to share the moment with them and then attend the mass. But I had found myself in the journey not the destination and I had found God in the trees and forests, mountains and streams, in pilgrims faces and in real masses where something alchemical happens; not in the hectic cathedral where everyone seemed to be following the motions. How could I listen to God here, with all the commotion? It was a strangely public place to end such a personal journey. And yet it was quiet. I knew many of the people I had met along the way were there but I ended up in a completely different part of the church to them. I walked into Santiago alone. And I was good with that.
When I started this journey it was all about the destination. I had to get to Santiago at whatever cost. Then I fell in love with the journey and the destination was no longer important. In fact I never wanted the journey to end.
I spoke to Leona back home. She reminds me of Pepe's words: after you get to Santiago the camino isn't over: your real camino begins. It's hard to take it all in. Hard to come to terms with this new camino. The way isn't mapped out. There are no arrows guiding me. I'm not sure who my fellow pilgrims will be, what the terrain will be like.
After mass and a long lunch with family I am at a loss about what to do. I find myself wandering the streets of Santiago. I'm looking for arrows but there aren't any. I need to walk, to just be. The world of plans, needs, wants, expectations, fussing, preoccupations is overwhelming. I realise that my current state is at odds with the rest of the world. That I cannot be understood. That I need to find a way to keep the camino living within me while being in the confines of society.
Plans to go out, drink champagne, and party the night away collapse as do Liz and I who are exhausted. We say our good byes. Liz is leaving tomorrow for Milan. I've spent more concentrated time with Liz than I have with any other person in my adult life. I can't imagine not talking and walking with her, hearing her voice telling me her stories.
I look back to something I read on the walls of an albergue a few weeks ago (what feels like a lifetime ago)
1) primero piensas que el camino es un sueno - maravilloso y increible.
First you think that the camino is a dream - wonderful and incredible
2) Luego piensas que es como la vida condensada en pocos dias.
Then you think it is like life condensed into a few days.
3) Al fin descubres que es solo una ilusion, que no existe, ni en Los pueblos, ni en las sendas, ni en la gente, solo en tu mente.
In the end you discover that it is just an illusion. It doesn't exist in the towns or footpaths, nor in the people; only in your mind.
4) Por ello, si descubres que te hizo vibrar la primera vez - podras tener siempre el camino contigo.
And with this you discover for the first time, that which makes you vibrate - you can always have the camino within you.
Over a month walking the camino... To find it is already within me. This was the only way I could discover what I had within; come full circle. I wouldn't want to do it any other way.
Thank you camino for inspiring me
Thank you soul for patiently guiding me
Thank you body for carrying me
Thank you feet for not giving up on me
Thank you road for laying yourself down for me
Thank you sun for giving me light
Thank you sky for showing me the infinite
Thank you moon and stars for illuminating the way
Thank you darkness for making me trust
Thank you trees and forest for filling me with your wisdom and shading me
Thank you iron cross for lifting up all our hope and dreams and laying down all our losses and sorrows
Thank you mountains for energising me
Thank you earth for communing with me
Thank you breeze for cooling me
Thank you silence for making me listen
Thank you birds for filling my days with song
Thank you friends for sharing this with me and being my company
Thank you loved ones for allowing me to wander free and being there to return to.
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