Camino Coda

Coda: Easter Weekend

>>}     Thursday early evening, coming for my certificate of completion at the Peregrino Centre: the line is the length of the corridor – when I walk to the ‘end’, the line continues down a second corridor.  I burst out laughing, and a young woman in the line joined me. The laughter made it easier to wait. In time, we all got our certificate. More than I had expected, the certificate is important to peregrinos. 

>>}     Easter morning service at the Santiago cathedral is quite spectacular.  One of the readings is in Spanish, one in English, and one in Chinese, because the service and the church are for both locals and peregrinos of the world.

>>}     I don’t really want to be a shopper or tourist in Santiago. Most of the time, I rest, think, walk through the city and people, and go to church, which I think reflects the values of a pilgrimage.

>>}     There is a bond among peregrinos, and with the local people, because each peregrino is making some self sacrifice.  Most days, their feet hurt, their back hurts, and they keep going.  The amount of sacrifice varies with health, conditioning, distance and other factors -- but there is sacrifice.  If you don't keep going, you're not a peregrino.  An elderly French woman beside me in the Easter Sunday service took 5 years to complete over 800 km.  It's not a race, but it is determination. 

>>}     Vivid memories after 24 days of Camino:

· The church is truly catholic on the Camino.  It serves all, without pretense, and reinforces the same culture in the people.

· A young, handsome Asian couple in the last 10 km to Santiago walk hand in hand down the trail, praying together in soft voices.

· The Rev. Jim Holland, from the Cowichan Valley, glowing as he talks to us Saturday afternoon, just after finishing in Santiago.

· A three generation Spanish family, in the drizzle, stopping on the path for “Hail Mary” before going inside a bar/restaurant for lunch.

· Sun off the snow in the mountains, and with a forecast of more snow to come when and where I must walk.

· A 50-ish Spanish peregrino marched quickly past me, and the wind held his poncho out sideways, hard and straight. We talked when he stopped for a smoke break!

· There was swirling snow and ice around Foncebadon. I was concerned for frostbite and hypothermia. I had walked, eaten and rested with a small group for several days. They went on to Acebo that afternoon, and I did not. I mourned our separation, but also celebrated their determination and strength.

· Sarria is on the Camino, has good connections with major Spanish cities and is 110 km from Santiago, enough for peregrinos to get a certificate of completion. A mass of peregrinos, most in Spanish school or university groups, joined the Camino here during Holy Week. Their energy, especially in front of the cathredral, and sheer numbers were terrific. 

· The bus driver in Najera, where we started, and so many other locals and peregrinos along the way, wishing me ‘Buen Camino!’

· The delight among us when peregrinos who have walked together meet unexpectedly in restaurants, streets and anywhere. 

· The pain in my right leg, present at different intensities at the end of each day’s walk, always gone before next morning. 


Coda: Vision

The vision is still with me, and has evolved.  Will it evolve, evaporate or deepen?  Trust the moment, and let time tell.

The vision was this:

We humans live in a triple helix – earth, water and air – that is one.  Let the three colours intertwine into the number 1, for we are a part of one universe, world, and a specific place and time.

The German chemist who discovered the molecular structure of boron had a vision of a snake that grabbed its own tail, forming a circle/hexagon. My first thought was 2 (earth and water) then 3 (with air) snakes intertwined. 

There is cultural baggage with snakes, so over the afternoon the snakes became 3 colours of organic substance – wool, or cotton, or wood, or whatever is pliable and strong.

The Vision does not fade, and is now this:

We humans live in a double helix – life and inanimate energy/matter – that is one. Let this pilgrimage explore this reality, anywhere in the world.

DNA, also a double helix, and RNA assemble life from inanimate molecules of carbon, oxygen and more.  Human DNA has over a billion years of evolution embedded within it.  Our body is both uniquely human and an assemblage of symbiotic microbes and more.  Indeed, we “are marvellously made”.    

The Camino de Santiago has as symbols the scallop shell, and the colour yellow (Christ, the light of the world).  Let this pilgrimage be named 1 Pilgrimage, and the symbols be the number 1, formed with the colours green (photosynthesis) and blue (how the human eye perceives the sky and the sea).

What is the route and destination of the 1 Pilgrimage? The destination is always the same – wisdom – and the route is infinitely varied.

We humans experience some parts of Creation as more beautiful or dramatic than others. More important is that every part of the world is within Creation, so no part has more value than another in teaching about Creation.  More people visit Niagara Falls than Sitting Lady Falls, and each could be part of a 1 Pilgrimage route.    

Others in the Anglican Church are working on a pilgrimage route around the Cowichan Valley. Once back in Canada, I will engage with them on how our visions may be symbiotic.