Feb 23, 2010

Home again, home again, jiggety jig.

Last Tuesday morning I walked into the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela to spend a bit of time with St. James before leaving Spain.  I blundered down the stairs to the crypt with my pack on my back, set it on the floor, and then realized that there was a Mass being served on the altar before the reliquary.  I planted my knees on the kneeling bench and followed along as best I could.  After the service was over, the priest carried the chalice and paten back upstairs while the communicants remained downstairs in the crypt.

Reluctantly, I left the cathedral and hightailed it to the nearest bus stop.  I'd decided to walk to the airport, but spending 0.90€ to save an hour seemed like a smart move to me.  (It would have been a real bummer to miss my flight for the sake of a stubborn desire to walk all the way.) After almost a week in Santiago, it was good to hit my stride again.  The short walks around town and my day trips to Iria Flavia and A Coruña were good, but having my pack on my back again felt just right and 8 km was long enough for me to feel as though I'd gone somewhere.

From Santiago, I flew to London Stansted and then took the train in to King's Cross / St. Pancras station in London where I met an old friend who had graciously offered to host me for two days.  Wednesday morning, we hopped a train to Canterbury and it was then that I realized I was headed to yet another ancient site of Christian pilgrimage.  The relics of Thomas Beckett were destroyed at the command of Henry VIII in 1538 and shortly after that large scale pilgrimage to Canterbury came to an end.

Thursday morning I crept out the door and made my way to the train station where I had time for a coffee and a sandwich before catching the 6:44 to Victoria Station.  From there it was the Gatwick Express and on to my flight.  Fourteen hours after I laced my boots on in England, I was back in Canada.  The next morning I was at my first session of the TESL class that I'll be taking over the next four months.

So, why haven't I posted much lately?  A big part of it is that the time I spent walking in silence was what I needed for me to be able to write.  Once I arrived in Santiago, my experience changed.  The first few days I spent a LOT of time in the cathedral, but the quality of the silence I absorbed there was somehow different from the moving meditation that I experienced on the trail.  Now I'm home, and there are Lenten services at church, class Monday to Friday, and Olympic hockey.  There are a few more post topics rattling around in my brain, so I will likely be updating this again fairly soon.  And perhaps there will be another pilgrimage to record again one of these days...

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