We did it! Arrival...
Took me a couple of days to get this post up. Arrival in Santiago was emotional and busy and intensely personal and intensely relational. I'm now back home, resting and processing - slowly.
We arrived on Saturday in Santiago about 1 in the afternoon. We went straight to the cathedral and sat there in silence for quite awhile. Over to the side, we saw other people we had met on the Camino. Didier was talking with other pilgrims. It was a great time of reunions and reconnecting with people we had shared the journey with. The reunions included hugs and congratulations all around. We stayed in the cathedral plaza, taking photos and sharing stories and hugs, then the team sang the Aggie War Hymn together in the plaza. It was quite a spectacle.
I received my compostela which is an official document that recognizes me as a pilgrim and my walk from St. Jean pied de Port in France to Santiago, Spain - a total by their estimate 775 km. Also, the Franciscan order is giving out a special compostela to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the pilgrimage of St. Francis of Assi as he walked this very Camino to Santiago. It was a surprise and an awesome privilege to receive this special compostela.
Last night, we had a celebratory meal with many laughs, tears and stories from the Camino. I originally started this journey as a tag-along with the group, but ended as a member. They accepted me as one of their own and I am now forever connected with 14 incredible people. Quite an honor.
Today we attended the pilgrim's mass in the cathedral. It is a Catholic mass that recognizes the countries represented by the pilgrims that arrived the day before in Santiago.
After mass, I started the process of saying goodbye to my friends. We had many tearful hugs and promises to keep in touch. I also got to spend time with Didier today. We went to get ice cream and later toured the cathedral together. He is still in his wheelchair and continues to pray for healing. He, however, does not seem to be disappointed. We both told each other goodbye and hope to stay in touch. As we said goodbye, he called me his brother. He left this evening on a bus with some of the Aggies as they headed to Finisterre, the place once thought to be the end of the world. It is the furthest most point in Europe. Until Columbus, this was it. Didier had insisted on saying goodbye to the group and decided to take the trip to Finisterre with them.
I am still struggling with my feelings right now and still processing many things. I think that it will take some time for me to process all that I have experienced over the last 5 weeks. Debrief is a must. I plan on making the same trip next year with Laurie and a few others. Let me know if you would be interested in joining us in the journey.
6/23/2014 12:46:09 pm
Billy, Don & I congratulate you on a very successful journey. I am Catholic and St. Francis has always been my favorite saint. I knew that he had walked this pilgrimage, so I've been very interested in keeping up with you. It is a great honor that you are receiving recognition from the Franciscans. The prayer of St. Francis holds a special place in my heart, and I always carry it with me; and now it will be special for you as well. God be with you!
6/23/2014 10:18:33 pm
So proud of you Billy! I am thinking I might want to do the Camino some day also.
6/23/2014 11:37:52 pm
I am so pleased that you were able to make this journey and have really enjoyed reading your progress. I can only imagine the processing you will need to do in the coming days and weeks. Thank you once again for giving your life to serve God by furthering his kingdom! Love to te whole family.
6/24/2014 01:48:07 am
Billy, thanks for sharing an amazing journey.
6/24/2014 02:59:36 am
What a great journey and investment in eternal relationships, both yours and others. Felicitations for a great accomplishment! When are you planning next year?
6/24/2014 06:37:51 am
Cogratulations Billy; what a journey! Praying for you guys as you reflect and decompress from this adventure. Thanks for keeping us posted.
6/27/2014 06:01:00 am
Congratulations, Billy, on finishing the Camino. (And also congrats to you and Laurie for 28 years of marriage!) I know it will take a long time to process and absorb the things that you have been learning along the way. I, for one, am looking forward to hearing some of those revelations as they become clearer to you. THANK YOU for being an example and model for us of someone who values the importance of taking time to listen and reflect in a world where ministry is viewed through a functional lens more than a transcendent one.
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