“I would not like to live in a world without cathedrals. I need their beauty and grandeur. I need them against the vulgarity of the world. I want to look up at the illuminated church windows and let myself be blinded by the unearthly colors. . . I want to let myself be wrapped in the austere coolness of the churches. I need their imperious silence . . .I want to hear the rustling of the organ, this deluge of ethereal tones. I love praying people. I need the sight of them. A world without these things would be a world I would not like to live in.” Night Train to Lisbon ~Pascal Mercier
As we approached the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, I started to cry. It is this magical place where pilgrims from all over the world celebrate their journey.
Children were signing, elderly were on their knees praying, couples were hugging, girl scout troops were beaming for pictures, and a few solitary pilgrims were on the outskirts reflecting on their reasons for being in this place in this moment.
There was a moment when I felt like we didn’t belong. We haven’t walked the El Camino for days or weeks or months. We parked in the parking garage a mile away.
As I stood there, with my husband and children, and listened to the pilgrims song, I remembered that just that morning we were in a different country, that just in the last week we were speaking a different language, that in the last month we have crossed continental coasts, that in the last eight months we have spent time in seven countries. It was then that I knew why the pilgrims song rang true.
We are on a different kind of journey and we should stop and celebrate and reflect and listen and most of all give thanks. Every pilgrim has a different reason for setting out but one thing about this moment of “crossing the finish line” that will always stay with me is that there is a profound knowledge that once you start seeking, there is no finish line.