I finally found frames for my certificates. The Compostela is awarded by the Cathedral for completing the Pilgrimage. The Conventus is given by the Franciscans to pilgrims in celebration of the 800th anniversary of Saint Francis’ pilgrimage to Santiago. And the third is from Finisterre for making all the way to the Coast of Death.
It has been an amazing six weeks, totally different than anything I have experienced before. I am very grateful for the chance to do this.
I stayed in a sixth floor walk up studio. From my window I could see the steeple of Notre Dame a few blocks away. I could also see the Tour de St. Jacques. This tower is all that remains of a historic church which for centuries was the starting place of the Camino in Paris. It is also the head of Rue St. Jacques, which is still the Camino route from Paris. As I walked down that street, past Notre Dame, I started to notice little yellow arrows painted on the street, pointing the way. I decided I was ready to follow the arrows which were pointing me towards home.
This was the closing prayer from the service at the American Church in Paris.
Holy God, thank you for the privilege this day of confirming again the faith of your holy catholic Church together. Remind us of the promises given in your own baptism, and renew our faith in you. In the power of your Holy Spirit may we together live in the hope of the resurrection and celebrate the good news each day in our own lives by serving you with joy, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.
I went to church twice today. I went to the 8:30 service at the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. There were about 300 worshippers at this early service. There were easily that many tourists strolling around the edges of the cathedral which was very distracting. You could tell that most in the congregation were also tourists. Four priests led the service plus a cantor to lead the music. She had a good voice and led us in the sung responses and she sang a very good solo. This was only the second service on my journey where someone other than the priest led the sung responses.
Afterwards I strolled along the bank of the Seine River in the direction of the Eiffel Tower. My destination was The American Church in Paris. It is a 200 year old American English speaking Non-denominational Protestant church. Their style of worship at the 11 am Traditional service is very similar to our service at Dominion Chalmers. About 400 people came close to filling the sanctuary. There are few seniors in the congregation as most are in Paris to work for the American Embassy, the UN or a NGO. Their four pastors led a lively service which included confirmation. When we sang the first hymn I felt like I was back among my own people. We sang strongly with harmony. The congregation sang so well you couldn’t hear the 24 voice choir. There were a few tourists present and we were warmly welcomed.
Despite their differences the services were quite similar. Both used the same readings from Acts and John. Both messages spoke of the challenge of how we are to share this spirit today. It was a joyous way to mark Pentecost. Truly God’s spirit is with us in many different and wonderful ways.
This is a brief video I shot of the incense botafumeiro being swung at the Cathedral in Santiago. It takes six men to handle it. I wonder if we could do this at Dominion – Chalmers?
Someone suggested I take the roof top tour of the Cathedral. The guide explains all the additions done over the centuries as well as the current renovations which are to take 3-4 years. That sounded too much like a church building committee meeting for my tastes.
Instead I went to the English language communion service that was held in one of the side chapels. A priest from England led the over 100 worshippers in a beautiful liturgy. He used many chants from Taize which made it easy for everyone to join in the singing. He spoke of how the purpose of the Camino is to draw us closer to God. It is to strengthen our hope in the resurrection. He said the challenge will be for us to learn how to share that hope with others who have not shared in our Camino experience.
Afterwards I went down to the crypt to pray where St. James’ remains are interred in a silver casket. Then I climbed some very well worn marble stairs into the back of the altar to hug the statue of the apostle. Now I feel my Camino is over and I am ready to head for Paris.
When I arrived at Finisterre yesterday my feet were tired. I decided to take a taxi to the lighthouse since it was another 3km away. When I got out of the taxi I put my hand in my pockets only to discover my wallet wasn’t there. It wasn’t on the ground either. It was still in the taxi which just drove off. I had a moment of panic and wondered “oh God what am I going to do?” I did not like the idea of walking back down the hill to the taxi stand in the village. I turned around to see Gideon smiling at me. I met Gideon on top of O’Cebreiro. He is a South African living in England. We have shared many good meals and conversations together. I explained what had just happened. He said he had a sore knee and wanted to take a taxi back to the village. When we got in the cab I explained to the driver what had just happened. He remembered me from the taxi stand and asked which driver had taken me. He recognized the description and called the other driver. The original driver found the wallet and met us at the taxi stand. It was a huge relief. I have been very blessed by so many good people like Gideon and those two taxi drivers. God is good!
Five weeks ago I started walking. Today I am done. 876 kilometers of done. I have learned a lot about myself. I have grown closer to God. I have learned to trust the kindness of strangers. My sense of vocation feels renewed. I am very grateful for this adventure.
So what’s next? Well tonight I am going to stay up late till 10pm and watch the sun set in the ocean. In the morning I will take the bus back to Santiago for two days of sightseeing. I will post some photos of that. Then it is four days in Paris before I fly home on June 10. That will end the blog.
When I get home I will add some more photos and captions to the existing entries. It is hard to edit just using my phone.