Homeward Bound (Gratefully)

When I stood on the beach in Finisterre on Sunday, I finally felt ready to return home. I won’t say I felt my Camino had come to an end, for I believe it will continue in various ways. But I knew it was time for this phase of my pilgrimage to end.

I left Santiago earlier today and am now sitting in an airport hotel in Madrid, from where I will fly in the morning back to the United States.

As I sit here, I am thinking of all of the people I met and walked with during the past five weeks. The last one I saw was Mark from Canada, who I saw at the Santiago airport a few hours ago. As we hugged each other good-bye (for the third time – there is a lot of that on the Camino), he said “Thank you for being part of my Camino.”

And that – gratitude – is my dominant feeling as I sit here. Deep gratitude to all those who were part of my Camino experience. Not only Mark, but:

Beth, with whom I started and with whom – along with Jack from Ireland, Hans-Peter (the Hans-Peter from the Netherlands, not the Hans-Peter from Austria), and Jed from Seattle – I walked into Santiago a week ago today.

Michael from Poland, who remarked that it seemed like we had been walking together the whole way as we tearfully hugged good-bye this morning. (Our third good-bye, at least.)

Damion from California,who we walked with, lost, found again, separated from and found yet again.

Huub from the Netherlands, with whom I easily moved into a brother-sister relationship, complete with the loving teasing such relationships tend to have, and with whom I shared many dinners.

Rocky from Korea, who always had a smile and who cheerfully treated all of our blisters.

Steve from Oregon, who gave me a beautiful piece of jewelry he had crafted to thank me for giving him a towel after he had lost his, and who kept reappearing after we thought we had lost him.

Annette from Denmark, who set a pace I could never match, but who was always there at the end if the day; a woman of great wisdom and compassion.

There are so many more – I could spend all night listing people if I weren’t so tired – and I thank them all. For being part of my Camino and for helping me grow.

Gracias, muchas gracias, my fellow peregrinos.

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