I have finished walking for the day and am resting in a Lavacolla, a town about 10.5 kilometers from the Cathedral in Santiago. Absent something unforeseen, I will be at the noon pilgrim’s Mass in that Cathedral tomorrow. Although I still have several more days of travel before returning to the US (I want to get to Finisterre (end of earth) and the ocean), this seems like a good moment to say thank you.
One person I met on the Camino told me his friends bet him he couldn’t make it to Santiago. Mind you, they weren’t trying to spur him on; he told me they really believed he could not do it and so were betting against him. Another told me he lost friends over changing his life in a way that allowed him to do the Camino. And I met others who expressed the lack of any support for their pilgrimage.
My own situation couldn’t be more different. A number is students and former students have e-mailed me at various times as I walked to tell me they were praying for me. My friend Maria sent me a picture of the candle that burns 24/7 in her and Michael’s bedroom for me. My friend Gene has walked the labyrinth once a week while I have been walking as a way of supporting me. My friend Jeanne e-mails periodically to tell me she loves me and is holding me close. My daughter tells me how proud she is of me whenever we Skype. Other friends and family have posted Facebook notes with their prayers and support.
To all of my friends and family: I offer my heartfelt thanks. This has not been easy. In fact, I think it has surpassed my long vipassana retreat as the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Your love and support has meant the world to me, all along the way, and especially in those moments when the blisters were excruciatingly painful, when it was pouring rain, when I thought I could not walk another step, when I wondered whether I could really make it to Santiago.
One of my friends told me I was brave to do this. Well, it is not hard to be brave when you are held in such loving, supportive arms.
I will be praying for all of you during the pilgrim mass tomorrow, as I have been praying for you all along.