A Pilgrim Tale: day thirty-two

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We repeat some familiar themes on this, our last full day of walking.

Anise has been with us from the beginning. Forever, when I think of Spain, the scent of licorice will be in my mind. We run our hands over it to release its fragrance and also for the way it makes our hands feel soft. I promise myself I will plant it in my garden next year.

sheep

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And there are sheep. I remember them scattered out all across the Pyrenees with their bells and long fleeces on that day when the wind was so fierce. And there was the stampede on the dry, flat meseta. The young shepherd boy beneath the tree. Today it is a small flock, and they seem to want to walk with us. We think that’s sweet. Not so much their shepherdess. 🙂

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Perhaps I have neglected to mention Jan’s love for obsession with animals. All along the camino, she has found them. And they have found her. They all seem to sense the goodness in her and her great love for them. So it is fitting that they are out in force to bid her buen camino just here at the end.

We sing and re-sing some of our favorite camino repertoire. But mostly we are quiet. Quieter than usual, anyway. Each of us readying for the culmination of our journey in our own way.

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Monte del Gozo, Mount of Joy, is so called because it was once the first point on the camino from which pilgrims could glimpse the spires of the cathedral. Today that view is obstructed, but the nearness of it is palpable. We see Santiago spread out below us and it is far larger than I imagined. This startles me a bit.

The final albergue of our journey is the very clean and efficient Xunta Albergue where we will sleep for 6 euros. There are 400 beds spread over this hillside, but on this evening, in the middle of October, not nearly all of these will be required. We bathe, then walk up to the monument honoring two of the more famous pilgrims of the Way, St. Francis and Pope John Paul II. Pilgrims sit at the foot of the monument or on blankets spread out on the grass, scribbling in journals or sharing stories.

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We have been in communication with some of our friends and know that many of us will arrive in the city tomorrow. Though it would be lovely to walk in together, trying to organize this feels contrived. So we will trust the process by which we have marvelously found one another over and over again along the road. We have lost track of several of our young friends, but hope against hope that we will somehow find them there as well.

Buen camino, friends. See you in Santiago…

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May the stars light your way and may you find the interior road. Forward!

~traditional Irish farewell