|Council of Europe camino sign.|
So the happiness we felt seeing these signs shows just how much we were going to miss the camino. Even now in 2011 we can be like lost souls now and again, and when we find a St. James pilgrim in a church, a scallop here, a staff and gourd there, we fall upon it as though it is a relic of some lost kingdom to which we once belonged. It doesn't seem too healthy to me to have that sense of longing, it isn't a state I would choose; but I have just had an email from a friend who has been to an institution of a rector in Inistioge in the Republic of Ireland today, who wears a Spanish beret to remind him of his camino (I'll get one for David immediately). So there's a lot of it about. For a long time afterwards I didn't feel 'at home' at home, maybe until now, when I seem to be moving back into my own life. There's a curious sense of dislocation when you get back: all the weeds, having missed the apple blossom, people getting on very nicely without you... a bit like having died really (I AM selling it to you, surely??). It takes time to readjust. Perhaps a year and a week is long enough; it jolly well ought to be.
Of course, D took pictures of Windows in Chartres; how can you not? And carvings on the cathedral doorway, which had a wonderful depiction of the jaws of hell, along with what I presume are pictorial suggestions as to how you might ensure getting there. Of course, I had to lurk in the doorway in a silly 'at; the camino has not cured me of that kind of thing. I noticed too just how better dressed are the people of Chartres than those in Santiago. And the trouble I had just finding a SKIRT in Santiago to wear on the Sunday! I had visions of finding some grand thing made of thick and crunchy black lace....
Sunday in Chartres cathedral felt very 'Anglican' compared with the Spanish experiences in cathedrals in Leon and Santiago. The music, the congregation, many of whom had a Cotswold-y look. We were getting nearer to home.
And so in 2011 a week of wandering in the mountains is planned. Perhaps we will have time to think together about what work the camino did. We'll be able to see the film 'The Way' too, and can harrumph together at any inaccuracies or misrepresentations as well as delighting in the 'been-there' feeling.
When I crossed the 50-years-old-mark some years ago, I began to think that the part of life to come is one where you have to use yourself up; no more hoarding of any kind. Doing the camino has reinforced this thought. There's no exclusive secret-of-how-to-live that comes out of it. The only way to live is to get on with it, and you don't need to do the camino to know that. But there were still some more camino surprises to come, and there was a sense of rounding off on June 13th in a most unexpected way.