I am back home, in California, after a few weeks spent back home in Italy.
Short digression: I actually never thought I could ever say so – yet it was the promise Christ made me in the Gospel on the day I got married. He said, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Mt 19:29) It took me a while to realize it, but He did keep his promise.
Anyway, back home. Time to get back to where I left off.
Shan tells me she had been to Italy and then flown to Spain, to walk the Camino of Santiago. As soon as she mentions it, my heart leaps: I walked the Camino last year, and I am still in wonder. She tells me it was not the first time she walked it, but this time she took a different route: she walked the Camino Portugués, which is the way to Santiago from Portugal.
I actually did not know anything about the Camino until a few years ago. Some friends of mine talked about it every once in a while, and that was all. It was my husband who introduced me to it: he walked the Camino in 2005; all the way from Burgos to Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain, to the tomb of St James the Apostle. St James the Greater was the first apostle to be martyred in Jerusalem around 40 AD, but his body was moved by two of his disciples to Spain, where he had preached the Gospel. At a certain point all traces were lost of the whereabouts of the apostle’s tomb until around the year 800 AD. It was then that a monk called Palayo was guided by lights in the sky to the wood where the sarcophagus was. According to tradition, that is where the name Compostela – field of lights – comes from. The king of Asturias (to which Galicia belonged at the time), Alfonso II, wanted a basilica to be built there to guard the relics. According to tradition, he was actually the first one to go there on pilgrimage; setting the example. Since then, millions of pilgrims have walked the way to Santiago, to St James. In the Middle Ages, when all Catholics would walk a pilgrimage at least once in their life (and who knew if they would ever come back), Santiago was one of the possible destinations, together with Rome and Jerusalem. So this place belongs to the very heart and history of our faith. And it is there that a friend of Jesus lies; a friend who lived with Him, ate, sat, drank, talked with Him, followed Him everywhere, and was part of the most important moments of His life. A friend that Jesus nicknamed “son of thunder”, I guess for his personality. Was he impetuous? Was he loud? What was he like?
This is what really stuck with me: I walked and went to see a man, a real man who lived and witnessed what I ask to live and witness every day, which is the company of Jesus. I went to see a friend.