June 18, 2015, Santiago de Compostelo
Today was full of emotions. Quite frankly, I was so excited last night that I didn’t sleep well. I found myself playing solitare on my tablet at 2:00 AM. But I guess I got enough sleep to make today’s journey. A group of us, Martin, Collin, Colleen and Julia had arranged to meet in the morning so we could walk into Santiago together. Our goal was to make Santiago in time for the Noon Mass at the Cathedral. Well Julia was having an ankle problem and had to make other arrangements though we hoped to meet up with her just as we were to enter the city. Martin and I left Rua at 6:00 AM and connected with Collin and his wife Colleen in just a 10 minutes in the next town. The first hour was before the sun rose so the path was pretty dark when it took us through the woods. We stopped for breakfast along the way, and also picked up another Pilgrim named Collin and made it to the city, with some stops for important pictures, by 11:00 AM.
As you may have noticed from my first post today, I was happy to be here! We all hugged and high-fived as you would expect. I did get a chance to just stand still, away from the rest, and appreciate what was happening. I wasn’t in the Cathedral yet, but in that moment I tried to recall all the prayer promises I had made, all the support I’d received from everyone, all the other pilgrims I’d met along the Way. Of course my pilgrimage was made easier because I had the constant love of my life, the love of my wife, to bolster me whenever I was tired or a little sore. So many others don’t have that on which to rely.
After the congratulations and the quiet moments, we entered the Cathedral with standing-room-only crowds for the Noon Mass. The ceremony was beautiful and, to my delight, was capped with the swinging of the Botafumerio buy the hold dozen tiraboleiros. Again, I found the grandure of the ceremony and the size of the crowds just overwhelming. After receiving communion, in those few minutes of quiet, I did need a tissue.
After Mass we all got some beers and food. Why not! And then headed down the street, armed with our well stamped credentials and regular pasport, to complete the paperwork and get our Compostela, the official document that says you made it. I also got another document that recognizes that I started in Saint Jean, France and walked a total of 775 Km. You can be sure that those documents will be framed and displayed in our house.
Tomorrow I’ll be a tourists. Tonight is more celebration yet knowing that I have one, very, very important leg of my pilgrimage to complete – to get home on Saturday and hug my Bride.