Made It!!! It´s Me

We walked into Santiago today!  We walked around the cathedral and then went to get our Compostela, the certificate of completion of the Camino.  We stood in pouring rain for about 45 minutes to get them.  Then we checked our backpacks (no time to go to our room) and went into the very impressive St. James Cathedral.  We were still soaking wet, but that did not diminish the experience.  

I went to all the places in the cathedral that are part of the tradition.  Then I found a bench on which to sit in silence by myself for a while (had about an hour) before the worship began.  The rest of my crew sat in the pews saving a place for me.  Our Spanish walker, little Estella (again, not her real name) enjoyed that her Mother joined us and walked the last 5 km of the Camino.  I used the adjective “little” because she is small (yes, even smaller than I am) and the three Camino Kids are now referred to as small, medium and large.  Dragan is probably around 6´7″ and more kilos than it would be prudent to say.  Tanja is tall and slender but not as tall as Dragan.  I have refused to allow the use of a size designation that was suggested for me.  

Just before the worship service began a group of about fifty people started singing a hymn in German.  I practically ran to join them but only got there in time to sing a part of the last stanza with them.  I knew the hymn and I can read enough German to be able to sing the words even if I don´t understand them.  The Cantor for the service practiced the refrains and a hymn before we began.  I was greatly pleased that the hymn was a Taize piece that I knew pretty well since we had sung it a number of times when I was in France for the week before the Camino on a retreat with the Taize Community.  

Yes the botofumeiro was very impressive.  The huge incense pot flew up so high that it almost hit the ceiling.  In fact there were marks there that indicated it had at times touched the ceiling.  Remember this is the ceiling of one of the largest cathedrals in the world.  When the five men pulled the rope to raise it and swing it, they lowered it very close to the heads of people in the pews, including Tanja´s head.  

There is no question that the Camino is about the people.  When we were preparing to cross a street near the Cathedral when we arrived I heard my name shouted by a two or three people that I had met along the way.  Dave (ten years or so younger than I) and I had just met the yesterday, but we had had one of the those Camino conversations that draw people together.  There were more hugs to be shared by others whom we had met along the path.  As I was sitting on the bench at the side wall with my eyes closed two different people said my name as they went by providing a moment of connection.  There were some others of us who recognized one another´s faces during times I was looking around.  There is one married couple who offered me some food two or weeks ago when I stopped to take an ibuprofen.  In just a very few minutes it was apparent that they were a special couple of people, very engaging.  We ran into them a few times along the way after that.  I had moved to another bench when Katy (from that couple – not her real name) came over to talk.  We had another of those Camino conversations when in ten or fifteen minutes some of peoples deepest thoughts surface (lots about Mary Ann was a part of that interaction – a bit emotional for both of us).  While we were talking Misha who is from Austria came up and shared a greeting.  Since he speaks German, he has been a joy to all three of us when we have encountered one another.  Friend Lois ended up sitting behind us.  It was good to see her in Santiago.  After the surface we were walking back to pick up our backpacks when we heard a shout from Elsabeth.  She is the first Pilgrim I met already on the bus from the train station to St. Jean the day before I started walking.  Each of us wondered if the other would be able to finish the Camino due to physical issues.  There was a feeling of coming full circle with the Camino when we talked.  Andreas who had walked with us for a couple of days appeared with his head shaved and his beard gone.  He is the one who walked all the way from Germany (total of 2600 km).  

There are so many more than I have mentioned.  I will be processing this experience until the day I die.  I continue to marvel at how much Mary Ann and our marriage has been the focus of conversations.  I have been able to celebrate her with people who actually gave signals that they were interested.  There is more to say, but it is very, very late here.  We were up shortly after 5:30am.  We walked the later part of the day in rain.  The discomfort of blisters and a bum foot is more even than the ibuprofen can handle.  The pain is often a part of the Camino and sometimes reveals more than the times of exhiliration do in the self-discovery that cannot be avoided.   

I can hardly believe I made it!


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7 Responses to Made It!!! It´s Me

  1. Dan Feldscher says:

    Congratulations, Peter! That is some accomplishment!

  2. Denis Smith says:

    Peter, we are so glad that you were able to complete the journey! It sounds like such an amazing achievement and experience that will enrich your life tremendously. I look forward to hearing more from you back here in the states.

  3. Gary baer says:

    Wow! Wow! Wow! Can I be proud of my elder? You inspire me, Uncle Pete! “Christ in you, the hope of Glory!” Gary

  4. Susan Reid Lewis says:

    I knew you would do it. So great. I have been praying for you along the way. East is east and west is west but in Aurora (today) west is best. It sounds a little silly (I barely know you), but I am really proud of you. Well done!

  5. JoAnn Mizel says:

    Nice job Pete! Mary Ann would be so proud of and happy for you! (As we all are!)

  6. Elsabeth says:

    Dear Peter,

    You made it! So proud of you and so happy that I got the change to run into you again in Santiago. Although I officialy stopped in Ponferrada I’m really happy I made the decision to get on the bus to Santiago. It did feel like a complete circle when I saw you on my last night. My camino wouldn’t be done without that last meeting. Thank you for our conversation in Torres del Rio. Enjoyed reading you’re blog! Enjoy you’re last staying in Spain. I’m back at home and although it feels like home lots of things changed and I’m happier then ever. The camino did work, don’t know how but his mystics ways worked into me. Wish you all the best and if you’re still with Tanya and Dragan say hi to them from me!!

    • PeterT says:

      I was excited to see you in Santiago. As you know you were the very first person I met even before we actually began walking. I am very glad to hear that things are going well back home. I really enjoyed talking with you. You are a remarkable person. Don’t ever forget that!


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