Finisterre was not part of my original plan. I simply didn’t have the time, and when I left my Fellowship in Burgos I was truly worried that I would not be able to maintain 30 kilometers per day. I decided that I would hitchhike before taking a bus!
It took until Leon to finally settle into a 30k rhythm, but I wouldn’t change those early adventures for anything! It didn’t take long for 30 kilometers to feel like a comfortable day of hiking. Anything less began to feel too short, so I would press on. By keeping this pace I actually gained a day and entered Santiago on June 26th.
There was no question that I would use the extra day to take a bus to Finisterre.
The walking route cuts as straight of a line as it can through the mountains for close to 100 kilometers, but the bus follows a much longer route along the coastline making it’s stops in many fishing villages along the way. From my perch on the second level of the double-decker bus I marveled at the quaint villages tucked into the many coves along the coast. The tide was out, giving access to sandbars and small row boats tethered to the rocks. On the way back I would see these same boats floating in emerald and azure waters, lapping gently against white sand beaches and smooth rocks. Why had I never seen pictures of this part of Spain? This wasn’t just one hidden gem, this was an entire coastline of pristine fishing villages. Why in the world was Hemingway sitting in Pamplona?!?
The bus let us off near the wharf. We had driven out of the clouds and rain blanketing Santiago and into the warm sun and clear skies. I wandered through the open air market, picking up churros for breakfast and fruit for the trail. I enjoyed a coffee in the plaza and then set out for the end of the world.
It felt good to walk without my pack. For the first time I could feel the difference in my stride, the new found strength built up in my legs. Even though I had taken a bus from Santiago, when I reached the zero kilometer marker, I knew I had stilled earned it. And something about that marker brought a conclusion, a completion to my pilgrimage that I did not even feel standing before the cathedral in Santiago. I did it. I had just traveled from one edge of Spain to the other.
Just like Cruz de Ferro, I did not bring anything as an offering. Traditionally, pilgrims would burn their clothes as part of a rebirthing ritual, but I still needed my pants. So once again I offered my words, this time to the fire.
Oftentimes, kilometer markers would have piles of stones stacked on top of them, prayers of the pilgrims. I never stacked any stones, but somewhere around marker number 50 I began leaving behind specific, painful memories. When something hurtful from the past would come to mind while I was hiking, I would leave it at the the next marker. I would physically walk away from it. Maybe that’s why kilometer marker zero was so powerful for me. It marked the emptiness of my pain.
Jesus said He is the resurrection and the life. This is the truth that He has been teaching me over the past three years: that I am not waiting for a resurrection, but that in Him I am reborn now into a new life that will not end. This world has taught me that even reborn life is full of suffering, but He has taught me that there is absolutely nothing the world can do to me that He cannot resurrect me from. You see, He is my new beginning, and He is everlasting.