How has it already been 27 days?!
Our first day in St. Jean seems so far away, and yet I remember every moment like it was just yesterday. Our recent days have been filled with numerous tough climbs but reward us with incredible views, and follow with an inevitable steep descent to the other side of the mountain. The days always bring an element of surprise with them. Sometimes it’s a beautiful fog sweeping over the valley, or the sun creeping up just beyond the peak of a mountain in the distance. Sometimes it’s learning something new about someone you’ve been walking with for a while or meeting a new face. And sometimes, it’s seeing a slew of random animals all along the way ranging from white stallions, to cows lounging on the hillside, or even the hundreds of dogs and cats. Some of my favorite places along the Camino have been these little hamlets that lay sporadicly throughout the Spanish countryside. We have all agreed that we feel extremely lucky to be able see some of the small villages that we walk through everyday, because otherwise, we would never be exposed to the simple yet captivating lifestyle of Galacia.
Today, our group surpassed the 100 kilometer marker, signaling the final countdown into Santiago. Today is also the day that the Camino traffic increased quite significantly due to the fact that in order to receive your Compostela, you just need to walk the last 100kms of the Camino. From this point forward, many tour groups will jump in – groups ranging from small to large numbers- and they will complete 1/8 of the amount that we have walked. With all the new people, there comes a new sort of energy about the walk – one that is very different from when we began. That said, we’ve still have a group of about 20 of us who have been around one another since week one.
We’ve been through the good, bad, and ugly.
The newbies stick out pretty badly, although it seems now that our group may be outnumbered by the fresh pilgrims. When asked how long we have walked, and we tell them 20+ days, their mouths drop all the way down to their brand new (clean & nicely scented) boots. One can also gage how long someone’s been walking by the amount of enthusiasm in their voice when they say the staple “Buen Camino!!”. I’m thinking about inventing a button to press everytime I pass someone in the next few days…One that switches between Buen Camino, and police sirens so I can just zoom on by.
All kidding aside, I think we’ve all got to feed off of the energy the new people bring with them. We’ve got 3 more days (~75 miles) till we reach Santiago, and it’s time to embrace the excitement that lies ahead. I’ve got 3 more days to open my heart to all that God has to offer me on this journey, and also to reflect on what’s already been bestowed upon me. As one of my favorite verses says:
“Forget what lies behind, and strain towards what lies ahead. I will press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Although the end goal of this is to make it to Santiago, the ultimate prize is manifested in the relationships built and strengthened through the walk itself. Cherishing every second of the last few days.