© 2009 laurene

A lifetime in 9 days

Today was my last day in Spain and the end of my Camino. I keep wondering though, is this the end? Is it really so simple that once you arrive at the place, destination, is the pilgrimage over? If pilgrimage is a process then shouldn’t it go on and not be so finite?

Last night I collected my credential from the cathedral. This acknowledges me as being a pilgrim and all the rights and pleasures that go with that. I have 3 in total from the trip- Finisterre, Muxia and Santiago. In theory Santiago is the one that matters, but for me they all recognition of different things. One the arrival at a place that enticed me through a novel and I dearly wanted to go to. Another a coast line that for me is the most beautiful cathedral we could ever create. And the last recognition that I have been one of the millions that has walked the path and contributed in my small way to the mass trace of that.
To my horror when I got back to the hotel last night I realised that I had lost the credential – how appropriate to lose the thing that recognises how far I have been and my fear of getting lost, and that I made it out of the labyrinth! So back I went today and fortunately they did re-issue it to me.

I started the day by going to local mass which was quite simple. As I had decided to spend the day in the vicinity of the cathedral which is central to the development of the Camino, this seemed to be a good way to start. Then coffee & little lane-way wondering and I went back for the pilgrim’s mass. This was quite different and the focus (of course) was on those who had traveled there, and j was one of the ones recognised today. For many this was a very emotional religious and spiritual moment, yet whilst it went on tourists were meandering around and talking, cameras flashed. I couldn’t help but think about when Jesus went mad about the temple becoming a market place. This is what such cathedrals and temples have become: places of spiritual devotion, museum and tourist attraction, and all are needed if they are to survive.

As I walked around the city during the say I ran into people I had met whilst walking and that sense of being a part of something bigger was still there.

Tonight I sat in a cafe and listened to a local band and watched tourists, pilgrims and locals mix as they took their evening stroll.

I have only just started to digest all that has emerged from this journey and will leave that until later.

Tomorrow I go back to London feeling like I have had a lifetime in just 9 days.