Waking to the sound of the cathedral church bells was beautiful. Stretching my legs under fresh linen sheets – A simple pleasure? Knowing you don’t have to get up–awesome! LOL
There were three tasks I had to accomplish today:
1. Obtain my Compostela (Certificate of Completion)
2. Pick up my bag with extra clothes that I had shipped forward
3. Attend the Pilgrim’s Mass at 12 noon
Yesterday, the wait for the Compostela was three hours. Apparently 700+ pilgrims had arrived. Today, I only stood for 15 minutes because I got there when it opened. Receiving my Compostela was definitely a highlight. It’s in a tube right now and I will take a picture of it when I get home. I am particularly fond of my Pilgrim Passport with all the stamps showing where I visited.
Picking up my luggage was an easy task and before you knew it, I was out of my Camino uniform and into “civies” again. Boy, did it feel good not wearing pink and purple clothes. lol
I decided to head over to the cathedral around 1030. The line up was unbelievable; down the cathedral steps, around the fountain and past the corner of the street. That was just to get into the church. The 1030 mass was already in progress and was in Spanish. I walked through the doors, found a place to stand and at that moment the botafumiero (incense burner/smoke expeller) began to be raised. This is the culmination of the entire journey seeing the swinging of the botafumiero. It is silver, 3 feet tall and takes 5 men to raise it. I cried and cried as it was so beautiful.
I stayed for the English mass also and the Bishop of Santiago delivered the mass with guest priests from different countries. First, I needed to hug the statue of St. James that sits behind the altar. I couldn’t take a photo as the mass was in progress. It was very special. Needless to say, there is a lot of gold in this cathedral!
After hugging the statue, I came out on the opposite side of the altar and waving to me were the German sisters (Stephanie and Bianca). They motioned for me to come and sit with them and Colorado Tim. This time when the botafumiero swung, it was over our heads. A little prayer that the rope would hold up was uttered. What a beautiful sight.
After mass, I hugged my fellow pilgrims and wished them a good trip home. Stephanie and Bianca were renting a car and driving to Bilbao. I, on the other hand, was going to enjoy a final luxurious evening at the Parador and reflect on this experience of a lifetime before heading to the south of Spain.
I Skyped dad but we couldn’t connect. He had an early date at his favourite restaurant – Dundas Street Grill. He was also leaving on the 47th annual MGM fishing trip so we promised to connect when he got back. We love our Skype calls.
Reflecting on this experience, I realize just how blessed I am.
There were physically-challenged people in wheelchairs/strollers or those wearing full braces travelling the same road. I have two feet that carried me through this journey albeit it with bad knees.
There were sight-impaired people being guided with assistance, I have two eyes that helped me see the beauty of the landscape and the people.
There were hearing-impaired people and I have two ears to listen to the cuckoo bird, or laughter as we shared stories of our lives with each other.
My feet and knees hurt and I think of all those that travelled before me without shoes.
Too many blessings to count, but the biggest blessing was having the love and support of my family, friends and coworkers. You all encouraged me to keep walking and writing.
I am proud of what I did and how I did it. I encourage you to try it for yourself no matter your age or ability. It may not make you enjoy walking, but this enriching experience will teach you so much about what you can do, while learning about Spain, others and yourself.
Thank you for all your support and remember when life gets hard, put one foot in front of the other.