14 October 2017 – Winding Down
SONG: Ordinary Love by U2
BOOK: Started and finished Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – a dense look at racism…a bit too much in some ways, but every point in some way, a truly legitimate issue.
THOUGHT: On NPR, I used to love the Swami Beyondananda and his wise words about how we look at doing “fasts” to cleanse our hearts and bodies. He was a much stronger supporter of doing “slows,” however and that is what I seem to be doing as I do these last days.
END OF THE ROAD (Fin de la Tierra; Fin de la Route) This section of the walk is something of an add-on for most of the Pilgrims. You get your full on papers and certifications in Santiago for being a “true”pilgrim. If you walk all the way to Fisterre, you get another certificate…I Walked To The End Of The World papers. I don’t get this one, because I took a bus AND a taxi…tsk! But I’m on board for exploring it.
As to the historic context and relationship to James’ (reason for the Camino) story and eventual sainthood, this is the point where his remains miraculously sailed back in from Rome, on a stone boat that was covered in scallop shells (giving them their place in the history and utilization in the pilgrimage.). It used to be that you got your shell once you arrived at Santiago and that was your verification once you got home, that you had actually finished the walk. Now you get shells whenever and you get papers at the end.
Story continues…assisted by good friends who thought he would like to be buried in Galicia in spite of his spectacular job failure in conversions here, an ignominious departure from Spain and his subsequent beheading by Herod on his return to Rome (being the zealous convert to Christianity that he was, Herod was not keeping him around!) they set his remains out in the stone boat which made it miraculously back to Fisterre.
On arrival at this point however, the Gaelic governing body in Northern Spain at the time…a seemingly strong female-controlled community…let the bearers of the body know that he was not welcome there for burial. The queen told everyone clearly that if they did want a burial, it would have to happen at least 50 miles inland. So they headed inland and put him into the ground in what is now Santiago de Compostela…back then it was just a field of stars.
Not so much any more…refer to cathedral photos (previous blog post) and full on Catholic performance celebrations of the man who eventually rose up out of his grave to slay the Moors and get Christendom into its proper state of control. It was his way of redemption apparently from his miserable inability to convert folks on his initial try. In essence, this slaying thing was his do-over.
As for the current time and place in the Camino pilgrimage – Fisterre-Muxia Way – the intensity of the more interactive walk with other pilgrims, is less present. The physical demand is greater…the distances between stopping points is longer (more than 30km per stage; less well marked; fewer albergues in between.) Many decide not to do it. Many do a variation with the walking and the bus. I am in the latter group.
I took a bus to Muxia and set out immediately for Lires. It is the mid point between Muxia and Fisterre and I was planning to make Muxia my return point for departure back to Santiago for the trip home.–
Lires is tiny but with a beautiful beach and a fresh water river that flows into it, with a biological co-mingling that is similar to the one we lived near in NJ.
The walk between Muxia and Fisterre is mostly wooded and the tall pines have breaks that open out to views of the breaking sea. It makes it the true cathedral space I need. I have walked alone on these days and it has been delightful. There were a few points where I got 2k or so off the course, but I got re-directed by guys on tractors or ladies coming out of their gardens.
Fisterre is a small harbor town and the fishing industry has a presence, but it looks like more of the boats in the mooring spaces are for shuttling tourists out into the bays during high season.
Fisterre is also the official end point of it all – “0” km point marker. I walked up up to the physical site by myself the 2d day there and looked out from what has been everyone’s point of final reflection. Personally, I don’t think I could reflect on more than the fact that this was “it.” Any profound awarenesses did not strike me. Maybe one day there will be some light-up moment but right then it just seemed like a place to have cafe con lèche and the traditional shot of local liqueur – it was after all 11:00am.