Never in a millions years would I have expected the happenings of today!
I suppose I should start with last night, at the place with the handsome host. I showed up for supper around 7, but supper wasn’t really until 8, but I could have some soup and lasagna, which was exactly what I wanted. Right at 8, two men from Maine showed up, Francis Xavier (Frank) and Jim. Jim’s brother, Tom arranged the trip for the three of them to walk the Camino, but Tom had plantar facitis (I know the feeling) and couldn’t go. Tom had arranged where they would stay etc, and they had been on he road since September 12, that’s 52 days at that point. Frank and Jim and I were talking about Maine and getting to Santiago, and the Pilgrims Mass at noon, while two other people showed up, a woman in her late thirties/forties and her father. I didn’t get their story at the time, but they were from Maryland.
I woke up and got ready to walk the final kilometers to Santiago. It wasn’t raining, but had been, and the view walking up monte de Gozo was spectacular, with the clouds covering the valleys against the mountains.
There are two things I haven’t shared with you yet and was reluctant, but you’ve seen the inside of my soul thus far, so you may as well see the whole thing. The second night in Spain, Frank said, “You just need to jump off the deep end.”
I interrupted this to mean you just need to put yourself out there no matter what, just be yourself and jump, otherwise you’re not really living.
The second thing is that when Denise and I were talking about guardian angels, I told her about my experience, which I rarely ever do. It was shortly after Eleanor had died, and I’ve been told I was a pretty grumpy, shy kid. One morning I came down for breakfast and my dad asked me why I was no longer grumpy and even had a smile on my face. I tried explaining what had happened, about four guardian angels surrounding my bed, letting me know that everything would be fine, but it sounded absurd, even to me, so instead, I told him I heard something on the radio and that changed me, which he believed me.
There you have it, the two things I’ve needed to share, but you get it how it’s sooo important to live and love life to the fullest and that’s there’s nothing to fear God and his angels are always with us. Anyway, back to Santiago.
So walking down monte del Gozo, I see the suburbs of Santiago and a rainbow. All of a sudden a song pops into my head, which I haven’t sung, nor thought of in, maybe 20-30 years. The song is called Today, and was played at Eleanor’s funeral 40 years ago. I couldn’t remember all the words, so I turned the data roaming on and googled it. It turns out that John Denver wrote it, and the lyrics summed up this whole Camino, and everything I’ve shared with you and how it was all part of that song, and that throughout my whole life, Eleanor has been with me, and I never had to worry about saying goodbye, because she is always there, as is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, especially through the Eucharist.
For those that don’t know the song, the lyrics are:
Today, while the blossoms still cling to the vine, I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine. A million tomorrow’s shall all pass away, ere I forget all the joy that is mine today.
I’ll be a dandy and I’ll be a rover, you’ll know who I am by the song that I sing. I’ll feast at your table, I’ll sleep in your clover, who cares what tomorrow shall bring?
I can’t be contented with yesterday’s glory, I can’t live on promises winter to spring. Today is my moment, and now is my story, I’ll laugh and I’ll cry and I’ll sing.
I look down, tears streaming, and there was a huge patch of clover, the kind with the hearts inside, and I knew Elle belle was right there with me, friends for life.
Eleanor’s family gave me two things when Elle died, one was her baby pillow, which I’ve slept with every night, except when traveling, and the other was a prayer that I memorized probably at the funeral and have prayed often. That prayer came into my mind and I recited that as well, followed by Today again.
God, make me brave, help me strengthen after pain, as the tree strengthens after rain , shiny and lovely again. As the blown grass lifts, let me rise, with quiet eyes, knowing thy way is wise. God, life brings such blinding things, help me to keep my sight, help me to see all right, that out if dark, comes light.
As I got closer to Santiago, there was an even bigger rainbow and I knew it ended at the cathedral, but I had no idea what gifts were held inside.
I arrived at the cathedral around 11, found the Peregrino office and received my Compestella, and saw Kathi. We ran into Frank, as he was headed up the stairs to mass, but Kathi had heard that there wasn’t mass today, but we would all try to make it. Frank said the hotel was great and nearby and I should consider dropping my pack, so I did.
I barely made it back in time for mass, and when I got there, I just missed the priests entering, and quickly found a seat, if you can believe it, right behind Denise and Lorraine! Who was up among the priests? Father Frank!!!
There was a welcome and the main priest said, in Spanish, that this was the beginning of the Camino and if we can take what we have learned back with us, the world will be a better place, well, something like that. Then he said there was a Sponsor for the botofumerio, which is a huge incense burner, which takes 6 men to swing, so it’s typically not part of the pilgrim’s mass, unless it gets sponsored. It was awe-inspiring, with the organ playing.
We ran into Kathi again, and she was going to thank the people who sponsored it (I guess I missed some of the translation), and it turned out to be the father and daughter from Maryland. She had overheard the Maine gentlemen and me talking about the mass, and wanted to say something, but it was all a surprise for her dad’s 75th birthday. They had started in St. Jean, as most others do, on the anniversary of her mother’s death, and had finished on his birthday. The mass was her gift to him, and ultimately to all of us.