Friday, September 20, 2013

Wishing Tomorrow Doesn't Come

Pedrouza to Monte De Gozo, 16 km

Today has been a day of contradictory feelings and emotions... It started with an email from work mentioning that a position I was wanting to apply for had already been filled, and then progressed to seeing planes fly overhead all day, and then I started crying when I saw the map here in the Albergue that indicated that there is only 5 km left.  

The church last night at Mass.  It was only built in the 1950's on the site of a pilgrim's graveyard, but I thought the shell behind the altar piece was neat! 

I think the problem is that my head is already at home, while my heart wants to be walking the Camino for forever... I know it isn't prudent for me to stay here for forever, but my heart is also telling me that there is some unfinished business for me here on the Camino, so I am pretty sure that I will be doing this again--maybe for the next holy year, which is 2021; possibly as a gift to me for my 40th birthday; maybe even as a treat for myself when I am finally debt free.  I just know that another Camino is in my future, because me and St. James have some more things to hash out, and I have some more lessons to learn.  As Jennifer Fulweiler says (well, she quoted her husband), "your priorities are the things you plan for," so I will be adding a Camino fund to my budget.  I may not be able to put much in there each month, but even a few dollars each month will grow!

Soon after seeing this, the km markers disappeared, at least in part because they are close to 5 km off.  I was really hoping for a 10 k and a 5 k picture, too!

What has been really fun has been seeing some of the people that I started with showing up here in Monte de Gozo.  I am debating about whether I should go spend time with them and hear about their camino or going to Mass... I think that friends will win tonight!  

All of the fences along the Camino on this leg have been enhanced with crosses woven into them like this.  A few pilgrims got rather creative by using shirts, socks, or scarves to fashion a cross on the fence!

Later, same night.

I actually opted for time with friends rather than Mass tonight.  Part of it is that I haven't seen these friends since Fromista, and part of it is that I will be going to Mass and Confession tomorrow in Santiago.  There is joy in seeing each other after such a long time, and I think that is part of the Camino experience.  There is a lot of joy for me in going to Mass as well, but my love for Jesus and the sacraments are not diminished by my love of good company and good wine.  I would actually argue that being physically present with my friends enhances my love for the sacraments, but I also know that choosing friends over Jesus can be a dangerous precedent.  

This is the spring in Lavacolla.  At the height of the use of the Camino in the middle ages, it was required that you clean your private parts in the spring here (colla is the latin term for scrotum, according to one of my books, and lava means wash in latin--the spanish term is lavar).  I just took a picture and saved my ablutions until I stopped in Monte de Gozo.

I suppose that my skipping of the pilgrim's mass makes me a bad pilgrim--but then, I'm still not sure what it means to be a good pilgrim.  I do know that the only requirements for my Compostela is walking the last 100 km (or riding the last 200 km, whether by horse or by bicycle).  For the most part, I have attempted to attend Mass every evening as well, when it was offered, and I have been praying for all of you and your intentions as I walk... But, if I were completely honest, I could have done that at home (and I try to do so, but I don't always succeed).

This monument was erected at Monte de Gozo when Pope John Paul II visited in the nineties.  One of the more unfortunate ideas was to plant trees between Monte de Gozo and Santiago in order to beautify the area.  Because of them, you can no longer see the spires of the Cathedral from Monte de Gozo, or Mountain of Joy, which got its name because it was the first point where pilgrims could see the Cathedral of Santiago.  However, this was still a place of joy for me, as I got to stop for the night, I got to reconnect with friends, and I got to meet some new ones as well.

Whatever it means to be a good pilgrim, all I know is that I will be arriving in Santiago tomorrow, and that this adventure will be coming to a close.  My greatest question at this point is how to retain the changes and shifts in my own personal being?  Every time I have gone on a trip like this, I have returned home different in some way... And in a month, six months, a year, I feel that I have slid back into my old self again.  I am not the only one who notices this, and this is why I believe there are so many who repeat the Camino.  Last night in the Albergue, I met a Dutch man who was about to finish his 7th Camino, in spite of the neuropathy he suffers from.  If we don't seek constant conversion, we end up stagnant, and sometimes even worse than we started off to begin with.

The Albergue I am staying at has over 800 beds in somewhere between 10 and 30 dormitories.  Because of this, the laundry facilities are in a central location.  Without a laundry basket, I found another use for my bandana--laundry carrier! (And, yes, that is all of my dirty laundry--it is also almost every stitch of clothing I have with me excluding the clothes I have on!)

So, my night comes to a close, and I will begin my last 5 km tomorrow morning.  When I get there, it wouldn't surprise me if I shed some tears, as tears seem to be my most constant of companions.  Even so, whether I want to or not, my Camino will be finished by this time tomorrow.  This makes me incredibly sad as well as incredibly excited.  What will the next stage hold?

What I saw of sunrise this morning.  I love it when Nature frames the shot so beautifully!