July 25 is a big day in the city of Santiago de Compostela, in the province of Galicia in the northwest of Spain. On that day the church celebrates the feast of St. James – in Spanish, Santiago – the namesake of the city.
Of course that day is today! I can’t imagine the countless peregrinos who will make their way into the city today. Many of them started in Sarria, making the final 100 plus kilometers of the Camino de Santiago. Many others will have begun in other places, a large majority beginning in St. Jean Pied de Port, France to walk the Camino Frances, as I did, or Pamplona, or Burgos, or Leon. Some will have come from further away, Le Puy, France maybe, or those who travel other routes, such as the Camino de la Plata, Camino Portugues, Camino del Norte, or the Primitivo. On foot, with packs on their backs, the click of their hiking poles and walking sticks accompanying them, they will make their way along The Way on this special day.
A year ago this was all a dream to me, something long imagined, something desired, something hoped and prayed for. Thanks be to God, to so many of you for your prayers, your material support, and your hope in me to make this journey. How often I thought of being in the Cathedral, watching the Botafumiero swing wildly from across the church! Would I ever see this happen? There is no guarantee that one will see it, the published schedule says it only happens at certain liturgies. We got lucky and saw it when we did not think that we would. What a gift!
It was an emotional moment for me, as it no doubt is for many peregrinos who have made the long journey. It is an emotional moment for me as I type this, my heart choked with gratitude and wonder for what has been, and a heart ready for what will be.
On this day I pray with all my being for those who will enter the Cathedral for the feast. And how I pray for all those who have made their way there, over the centuries and into the present time. I pray in a special way for my beloved compañeros that were with me that day, as well as those with whom I walked at one time or another. And how I pray for all who are on their way, especially for those who have no idea what awaits them on Camino. My prayer is for all of those who have a dream, no matter how crazy it may seem, how unrealistic it appears, and just plain, plum impossible. You just never know what awaits you. The camino cry to go onward is ultreia, and ultreia must be the way of life if we want to fully live.
Anyway, here is my little iPhone video, poorly shot and abruptly cut off because I ran out of space! Know that I pray for all who grace these pages today and always. Our prayers joined together, rising like incense before the Lord.
Buen Camino to all pilgrims, on the Camino and in life! Ultreia! Onward, always onward! Praying thank you, yes, amen!