Tomorrow I finish the Camino de Santiago.
I try to stay in the moment.
I concentrate on deliberately soaking in the people around me, the landscape I’m crossing, the buildings I pass and roads I walk down, but like a gravitational pull I can’t avoid, my mind is being drawn back to the thought: tomorrow I reach Santiago.
And it’s not a good feeling. It’s not one of joy, or of celebrating every kilometre completed like I used to.
I recognise it as dread.
I am dreading this to end.
Conversations are being had around me: “What is the thing you’ve missed most out here?”, “What can’t you wait to do once you’re back home?”, “I’m so excited for _________ agai!”.
And I just feel dread.
I spent eight months on a missions trip + backpacking in 2014 and coming home was one of the darkest periods of my life. After travelling the globe, learning new languages, being stretched and grown and experiencing so much richness in the world, I found it impossible to slot back into my old life. I just couldn’t. I didn’t know where to start or how to fit back in.
I think that might be a part of it…
Fear of returning to a daily grind after walking into places my feet have never been before day after day.
Fear that I will forget the lessons and experiences and memories that have filled my heart to bursting.
Fear of a lack of connection and authenticity.
Out here, we connect on deep levels. Within minutes I can talk about my most intimate hurts and joys with a complete stranger, or hear the secrets of their heart that they may have never spoken out loud before. There is permission, openness, support, to see each other for who we truly are – stripped back of all the facades and comforts we are generally surrounded with.
Amongst pilgrims, I know I will be heard and received and loved; these people are my family.
That’s part of why I aspire to be raw and real in this blog – this is me, this is my journey, the inner workings of who I really am.
Come see me and know me.
At the same time, I feel a fear of wondering how I will be received upon arrival back in Australia. This level of rawness is not the norm; I don’t know what it looks like ‘back home’.
I am even dreading finishing this without all my Pack together. Frank, Andrea, Paolo(s), Nancy, Emanuele, Alberto, Miguel, Christina, Laura, Danielle, Massimo, Yannick, Janey, Jess, Tomomi, David, Fede, Lauren, Amy, Alessa, countless others… Even Jorge. I feel like finishing this epic journey across eight hundred kilometres won’t be the same without them all in the square too. At least I’ll have Manu and Domenico waiting in the square for me Iley and Glen at my side, and Joana, Miguel and Diogo not far behind.
I recognise there is another ‘life lesson’ hidden in here somewhere about bringing my experiences and gems with me no matter where I walk or who with, but I’d rather wallow for a little bit first.
Today is Andrea’s birthday so I sent him a smiley selfie and he wished me luck and a Buen Camino. He understands what it is to finish this and then go home (this was his second Camino), so understands the turmoil of my heart tonight. I think there are many, many others who understand, yet I still feel alone in this moment.
Maybe it was good to have to say goodbye to so many along the Way. Bit by bit I have been strengthened to face the world not necessarily with these comrades physically beside me, but walking with me in my heart and soul (and phone).
The last part of the walk today was through a eucalyptus forest.
I could have been on a Thursday afternoon bush walk with Jarryd back at home and not known the difference (not including his puns and haikus and great company).
It was uncanny and familiar and fitting, yes. It felt like I was being eased back into Australi it helped show me how I might feel walking with my pilgrim spirit into life at home once more.
Yes, I am feeling the bittersweet resolution of my arrival at Santiago tomorrow..
But after a day or two, I will keep walking. I’m going all the way to Finisterre, and then Muxia.
Finisterre is at the ocean – I will have literally walked across an entire country, from France to the sea, and then the walk to Muxia follows the coast north to complete a full 1,000 km.
From THERE I head to India, to meet up with my Tribe family and share God’s heart with the nation for a few weeks, and then back home.
I’ll share more on that very soon, I promise.
There will be a few chapters to come yet, my friends.
Thank you for joining me so far already. My head knows tomorrow is not the end. My heart just can’t help feeling like it is.