It was a simple but special afternoon. After lunch we met once more in front of the Cathedral and went to the side chapel which had been provided for us to celebrate a final Eucharist for our now enlarged, combined group. The chapel was opposite where pilgrims were queuing to greet the Apostle. It is almost a full day since we first arrived and climbed those steps to do just that. Since then a great deal has happened and we have come to know this lovely city. There is such a buzz everywhere, excited people who have made the journey along the Way, celebrating that, and relaxing. But they are also worshipping God who has brought them safely to this place.
We filled the chapel for a celebration of St James. There was a great deal for which to give thanks and each person’s thanks would have been different. But together we wanted to give thanks to God for a holy pilgrimage to this place.
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles was read by Ros who was one of the Southwark Walkers. It spoke of the beheading of St James in Jerusalem, the first of the apostles to be martyred.
Guy, another of the Walkers, read the second reading from the Second Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians. That passage began with reference to the ‘clay jars’ which hold the treasure.
Sister Joyce read the Gospel, St Matthew’s account of the mother of James and John asking for special favours for her two sons.
In the homily I said that though, at the moment, we might feel like frail earthen vessels, the journey isn’t over but continues. We are the ‘pilgrim people of God’, and we are on a journey. But like the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, it is on the road, on the journey, that we meet the Lord; that just as the two disciples met Jesus on the Emmaus road and knew him in broken word and broken bread, in word and sacrament, so the Lord will make himself known to us on the Way.
We sang that great version of the prayer of St Francis, ‘Make me a channel of your peace’ and once again the Taize chant ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’, which has become a favourite on the pilgrimage.
Caroline and Janys assisted with the distribution of Communion. They are both Readers, as is Margaret, in their own parishes. It has been good that we have had Irene, Ros and Edmund, all priests, Joyce, a Franciscan Sister and Readers among our number. All have been able to exercise ministry during the pilgrimage amongst others who have read and helped with the liturgy in other ways.
At the end I prayed this blessing
May the infinite and glorious Trinity,
direct our life in good works,
and after our journey through this world,
grant us eternal rest with the saints;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
We are grateful to the Cathedral for their generous hospitality. We were treated with great respect and love, as brother and sister pilgrims, which is what we are. The sense of and understanding of pilgrimage is, of course, is in the blood of the people here and in the local poetry. Antonio Machado who lived in the region, in the late 19th, early 20th centuries wrote this in his ‘Proverbios y cantares’ (Proverbs and Songs)
Traveller, your tracks
Are the path and nothing else;
Traveller, there is no path,
The path is made by walking.
Walking makes the path,
And when you look back
You see the way that never
Can be trodden again.
Traveller, there is no path,
Only trails in the sea.
Coming this Way has made me think about my own tracks, my own journey, my own Way.
This evening we have our final pilgrimage dinner together.