2018 J2A Pilgrimage: Walking Day #5:
The motif of today, our last day of long-distance walking, is the scallop shell. This icon of Santiago pilgrims is native to this region of Spain, Galicia, and has represented pilgrims like us for many, many centuries.
In our evening reflection, we talked about how every shell, just like every pilgrim and every pilgrimage, is different. We reflected on how experiences change us, especially one like walking El Camino, sometimes in profound ways and sometimes in small ways. As we ran our fingers over the rough and irregular outer surface of the shells, each with unique the peaks and grooves, and also over the smooth inner surface of the shell, we thought about how not only does the pilgrimage change us, but also the ways in which we can change our world, our relationships, in light of the pilgrimage.
Now that we have reached our destination we realize that the destination is actually the beginning, the beginning of our postpilgrimage selves in the world. Accordingly, the traditional greeting among pilgrims now changes from "¡Buen camino!" to "Ultreia," in other words it changes from a wish/hope for a good walk along the pilgrimage way ("¡Buen camino!"), to “Ultreia!“ which means "beyond," and signifies that the pilgrimage is not the walking so much as a way of life in which the above themes and motifs are incorporated in our lives: keeping an eye out for yellow arrows, recognizing our stony burdens, being and accepting and offering walking sticks, and recognizing and healing the brokenness within ourselves and others.