Turn my story into a book by beth lord
Posted: Apr 01, 2016
El Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage once forgotten, is now a path for people who seek to find themselves and turn my Turn my story into a book, to seek forgiveness and clarity; it is a journey to self-love and healing of the soul. This path was once the death bed of the apostle Santiago, and it is said to be protected by his blessing. It was first walked by Alfonso the II, king of Asturias, who built a small temple to honour the saint once he finished. This temple went on to become a place of worship for pilgrims from all over the world. There are many roads that lead to Santiago de Compostela, many paths that are part of "El Camino", but one of the most magical variations is the walk to Finisterre –the end of the world, according to Roman beliefs–, where the sun’s daily death and rebirth was revered in ancient times.
The walk from Cee, the closest place to Finisterre, to the end of the world alone stretches out for 9.9 km the round trip. It is embellished by magical mountains and coastal settings that make for a charming view, and once you reach Cabo Finisterre, you can get a carnet to make your pilgrimage official. Once there, there are three popular traditions that mystify the experience. Bathing in the Langosteira beach is a symbol of death and purification of the body, a removal of all the struggles along the pilgrimage and all sins along life’s path. Pilgrims also burn their clothes to symbolize their rejection to material possessions, which are fleeting and only keep them tied to their pasts. Finally, watching the sunset at Cabo Finisterre is a symbol of death and rebirth; just as the sun dies when diving into the sea and comes back to life the following morning, shining with a fresh new light, the people who reach Finisterre die in their sacrifice and are reborn the following day having earned God’s forgiveness for their sins.
To me, El Camino is a path towards peace and self-discovery, a path of conversation, revelations and connecting, with others, with the world, with yourself, with the divine aspects within human nature itself. The first time I went to Santiago de Compostela was preceded in itself by these events. I first travelled through Europe and I met with friends that were and very special in my life. My first stop, Italy, confronted me with the fleeting nature of life and belonging; a small and bizarre accident –the curtains in my friends’ apartment caught on fire– reminded me that things are just that, things, and that we should appreciate the ones we love and the love they give more than anything. I travelled after to Germany, where a close friend has settled down and started her own family. There, we caught up with our lives; we cherished the past and admired all the things the future had to bring.
Finally, it was time for me to travel to Spain and start my own pilgrimage. I walked an endless path and met many people along the way. I learned that, in El Camino, talking is not a courtesy, it is a necessity. Talking serves as therapy and it comes naturally throughout the path. Pedro, a young Spanish-French man who had travelled through El Camino before, told me his story when we stumbled upon each other. He talked about his gratitude to El Camino, about how he was injured several times along a previous pilgrimage and how people in many Albergues –small, public hotels– nursed him back to health as he worked the land alongside them as a way to pay for their great help. El Camino is a path of peace, gratitude and solidarity.
It wasn’t only special people that I felt connected to during my month of walking. El Camino gave me countless small towns that were wonderful and special in their own way. The Galician forests and beautiful landscapes were breath-taking. Ponferrada, Mazaricos and Vilaserio had beautiful Albergues where I could relax, meditate and share my story with other pilgrims who had their own worlds to share. Ultreya –move onward– was a phrase that motivated us all to keep going, to keep walking through the path and towards our goals, here and in life.
When walking El Camino, I only had three obligations, only these three things mattered. Walking, taking care of my body and resting. Nothing else was a priority. The rest of the world was miles away. And knowing this was what allowed me to go inside myself, to learn and experience my life as I never had before.
I finally made it to Finisterre and I felt more connected than ever before to myself and to my pagan past. I saw the coast, where pilgrims bathe to cleanse their bodies of their sins. I saw the rocks where many burn their clothes as a symbol of their renunciation to worldly possessions. I settled down and I watched the sunset. I could feel my soul being reborn after walking through El Camino. I knew I had changed, I would never be the same again, and a part of me would always come back to El Camino.
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