Today we finished the walking part of our pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally the pilgrimage begins as you leave your door at home (this means that our´s included part of a church congregational meeting) as is over when you return to your door. We have a few days yet before we get back home, but, we are pretty sure that the toughest part is over.
We staggered into the city of Santiago today, six hours after leaving our alberege and covered 21km. This is a city of almost 100,000 people and it has grown out from the old city which houses the cathedral. From the outskirts of town to the cathedral at the center was the longest 4km of the trip. Coming down out of the hills, seeing the city spread before us, we were baffled that we could not see our destination. So we walked, and walked, and walked following one Camino pointer after another.
Ultimately we made it. As we came to the city, we saw fewer and fewer pilgrims in the busy streets. We actually felt a little out-of-place after weeks of seeing mostly pilgrims and a few farmers.
We were really ready to be done. In all the metaphors that I see in this trip, this is one that I wonder about. If the pilgrimage is a metaphor for life´s journey, do we indeed anticipate more and more the arrival at its destination as we get older? The other bit that fits as well is the entrance into the city with it´s bustle and strangeness as we near the end as a metaphor for that last stage of life that is often, in our culture, travelled in an atmosphere of bustle and strangeness as we spend those days in homes for the aged and hospitals, not among the regular pilgrims with whom we have shared the journey so far.
A little morbid coming to the end. Adrenalin brought us the last km. We have our certificates. We have reached our goal. We are changed, but are not sure yet what we have learned from the experience.
Tomorrow, we will attend the pilgrim´s mass.