Camino de Santiago Photo of the Week – December 2, 2012
I had walked a thousand miles. I had been bitten by bedbugs, fought off dogs with a stick, nursed blisters, eaten wet sandwiches in the rain, and stepped into cathedrals that moved me to tears for reasons I don’t fully understand.
This week’s photo was taken of me by Patricia Centurion on the last day of my 66 day pilgrimage from Rognes, France to the rocks of Finisterre, Spain. I was spent. I had walked a thousand miles. I had been bitten by bedbugs, fought off dogs with a stick, nursed blisters, eaten wet sandwiches in the rain, and stepped into cathedrals that moved me to tears for reasons I don’t fully understand. I had carried the coins of strangers to Santiago, placed a stone from Jerusalem on a Galician rock pile, radioed my children with my portable GPS, and made it to the end of the world, the finis terre. Months of walking and even more months of training were over. My feet made me look like a Hobbit. I was joyful. Strung out. Drained. Depleted. Ready to go home. I knew – as well as I know now – that I might never do anything like it again. And now in this picture here I am – was – walking up a stony hillside on a beautiful, sunny day: Done. Going Home. Journey Over. Empty. Full.
The photographer had become a friend weeks before over a conversation at dinner. Then I never saw her again until the last couple of days and then, finally, here on the rocks of Finisterre. She took this shot – and many more amazing pictures of her own pilgrimage. Patricia is a world-class jeweler (her site is here and there’s even some commercial shots of her jewelry on Gisele if that’s motivation). And if this miserable book of mine ever gets published — New York editors, you know who you are – you can read about Patricia, and the Hobbit feet, and the bedbugs, and the weeping in cathedrals.
In this picture I have reached the end and I’m coming home. Moments after this shot was taken I said goodbye to my friend, headed back to the roadside, and in a symbolic act of not walking, flagged a ride down with my thumb. I climbed into the back of an old couple’s car, pretended not to speak the little Spanish I did, looked out their window and felt the velocity of life come back at me.
It was over.
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