While it will certainly take time to truly recognize and understand the meanings we derive from this pilgrimage, this past day has shed some light on the impact it’s had on us.
The day was, as you’d imagine after such a trip, one where we moved slow. We treated ourselves to the extra perks that accompany a hard days work. We window shopped for mementos. We stopped to let Sully dance to sounds of street musicians.
We also attended pilgrim’s mass at the cathedral. Neither of us practicing Catholics, this was part ceremonial and part tradition as well as our way of supporting a community who’s faith have created such a wonder. Not in just the towering steeples, or the number of churches along the way, but the network of resources and people devoted to bringing people to this one point from points all across Europe. It’s an amazing power on so many levels and was a sight to see.
The conclusion of mass was marked by an age old tradition. Centuries ago as the hundreds of pilgrims would come into the cathedral, the smell became so unbearable the church had to create a way to cleanse the air afterwards. So the botafumeiro was born. The process was ah-inspiring and to be honest, so were the hundreds of phones raise to document the moment which admittedly we’d normally scoff at.
Throughout the rest of the day we would bump into people we met along the way. It was so great to see the people we shared this experience with one last time. The interactions though, felt somewhat off.
We like most people, have expereinced relationships that come and go in a variety of ways. Formed over a shared experience or intimatate connection that emulsifies the sense of unity. They like any living thing fade with distance or going without further care. What made these farewells seem so different is that the relationships we formed had the potency of life long friends yet were created in an environment which reality could not support.
The Camino experience played a part in building this connection between people. Everyday we’d meet someone new and engage in pleasant conversation. You’d say to yourself, ” oh, they were wonderful,” and wish you had more time to truly get to know them. However, we were all on our way and believed it would most likely be the only time (or the last time) you’d see them. Yet the Camino has it’s ways and you’d see them again, and in a few days, two weeks and so on. Each time celebrating one more shared moment.
Of course until the end, when it is time to go your respective ways. The typical farewells, “we should keep in touch” or “lets plan to meet up once every year,” seemed shallow and almost insulting to what was.
So each encounter was left with a sincere smile, as you’d recognize through the eyes and best wishes for what lies ahead. Our comfort is that hopefully each of our ways will eventually return to one at some point or another.