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Camino Blog 17 – Completion 2

Had cab pick us up at 8 am. Uphill to the TV station, then a short stroll to Monte Gozo – the joyful first sight of the church towers.   Except they’ve let the trees grow up so you can’t see the cathedral anymore.
We treated the whole morning like the last stage of the Tour de France – you know, where the competition is over and it’s just a celebratory easy ride. Hey, we made it, now all that remained was walking in.
So, we ambled down the hill, lounging, watching the whole backpacked world [seemingly] stream down the Rua San Pedro toward the Obradorio.
Whoever designed this approach had a fine sense of drama. We proceeded up into the old town through the porta Camina and through a labyrinth of narrow alleys and tight squares, then to a sunlit square past the holy door. Ducking down through a passage in which a Gallecian piper plays, we burst out into an explosion of celebration and activity in the Obradorio.
Bob was quite overwhelmed – fitting after all he’s put into this. To be standing in front of the cathedral, the object of all that effort, is a great fulfilment for the soul.
But the carnival atmosphere obscured the gravity of the moment: it was hard to let it soak in.
This is a national Center and there was some sort of a police / fireman demonstration happening in the square with kids driving mini cars, fire trucks blasting their sirens, people yakking on bullhorns.
We were going to go the pilgrim office for our Compostella but the lineup is 2 hours and we can get through tomorrow am in 15 minutes. They look at your credential passport and give you a certificate of completion. Another part of the arrival and completion. Napoleon said “an army will march forever for a bit of ribbon”
These confirmations seem to be a necessary part of closing out an experience- left over from school days but seemingly important to our wiring.
After hearing of the two hour Friday lineup, we elected to go tomorrow morning and whisk through in 15 minutes.
But, as to taking this all back home, Kevin, Doug and Jeff at Brea in the courtyard raised a special point. Don’t bother – don’t even try – to convey the full impact of what you’ve experienced. It’s not a failure on the part of the relator. It’s a lack of spiritual capacity of the receiver. They just can’t possibly mirror back to the full what you’ve known in your time on the Camino.
Better not to expect that – and, for you, the experiencer, to keep the expression more modest. The value of what you have done does not, cannot, depend on exterior validation. It is for your own soul.
Now, after having visitor upon visitor at our afternoon street side court on Rua Villar, we are getting ready for mass. At 7:30 pm, in the cathedral, the grand pilgrim mass. The high point? When the monks light the botafumero, the giant incense burner.
Then they swing it through the Center of the church, over the congregation, slowly at first. Then in greater and greater arcs until it travels from rafter to rafter trailing fragrant smoke. When my Jesuit educated buddy Rick witnessed this, he whispered – “We do good church, don’t we?”
It’s all part of closing out. Waves of people we’ve met see us while we or they roam the old city, congratulate us and us them.
Haven’t seen Inez yet, she’s a question mark still.

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Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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