"Take me to church.......".
Today was a day where the spirituality and the essence of the Camino came through. Up until now so much has centred on the physicality of the Camino...the heat, the asphalt, the climbs, the steep descents, the cobblestones, the distance, the tendinitis and plantar fasciitis, the food, the accommodations and the weight of the backpack. A little self absorbed and whiny I guess but the reality of it.
Letting go of that, today we went to the cathedral early to stake out a good seat for the noon hour Mass. As we were settling into our wait, I impetuously decided to attend an earlier Mass that was being offered in English in one of the side chapels. For me this Mass, performed by a visiting volunteer Irish priest, was one of the most personal and moving Masses ever. The priest made a conscious and successful effort to include every attendee into the service asking where we were from and how we had arrived at this service and later he had the pilgrims offer up personal intentions for their prayers, so much more meaningful than just a recitation of the usual ritual.
After this Mass I settled in to attend the Mass in the grand cathedral. It is amazing and astounding to realize that this Mass is offered at least twice a day all year and it is always packed. Imagine that many people completing this pilgrimage every single day. The Maltese group had specifically arranged for the botafumeira to be incorporated into this noon hour service and the expectation and enthusiasm of the pilgrims was palpable. When the accolytes got into place to take the ropes to swing the botafumeira, everyone's cameras and cellphone came out to record it. As the botafumeira swooped wildly back and forth in front of the altar, all the arms holding cameras followed the arc of the incense burner swinging up and down like a wave at a baseball game.
The feeling of congratulation and celebration spilled out onto the Catedral steps as pilgrims hugged and greeted one another or hugged and wished one another farewell. I know the Camino connections and friends they have made along their route will stay in their memories.
The main altar.