Finisterre is a peninsula located in Galicia, the Northwest region of Spain. For the past two summers, my father and I have backpacked the Camino de Santiago. On our first journey, I avoided seeing pictures of the glorious city, wanting my first time exploring its cobblestone streets and magnificent cathedral to be real, surprising, and unspoiled. I could go in depth about the journey in itself – what it taught me, how it’s changed me – but today I will focus on the destination.
Both times I’ve found myself walking the Camino in Spain, the highlight has been ending my long journey at this location: Finisterre. It was believed in the Middle Ages to be the literal end of the Earth. Just over the horizon, you’d find the dramatic edge of the planet. It was so easy for me to roll my eyes at the prospect of a flat Earth until I came here; then, I understood.
If you look closely, you can’t even see the line where sky and Earth meet. They bleed together, forming one, miraculous blue abyss. This spot has a huge spiritual significance in my life, and I’ll tell you why:
At the end of my first walk, I had prayed, journaled, and contemplated life’s “purpose”… very cliché, yes, I know. I had just finished my first year of college, and though I found I learned a lot about my faith, I also found it difficult to hold onto the ideologies I had clung to for so long. I was challenged, and for this I am now thankful, but at the time, I was confused.
While on the Camino, things began making sense. I broke up all the pieces and starting sorting through them over again, wrestling with the absurdity of human existence, my existence, and trying to figure out why it is I am here. I reached the beautiful, wondrous Santiago, and upon hearing the church bells at the city’s entrance, I understood. I understood what it meant to be a wanderer in Christ, to be walking (sometimes quite literally) His path, knowing, hoping, praying that one day, we will all meet again at that glorious city.
I had it all figured out, and then, I came here. Finisterre.
After having thought that I understood everything, I realized I understand nothing. And to my surprise, this was calming knowledge. Existence, God, purpose… It’s all one blue mystery. It’s nothing and everything in one. It’s abstract and concrete at the same time. It’s blurred lines and fine lines and shadows and clarity all embracing each other. We are just wanderers. We are only meant to walk the path. Some day, we will meet the horizon, and only then will it all be clear. But for now, we walk, and we trust, and we believe.
I am embarking on a new journey soon. My wanderlust has me traveling northward. I’ll be alone. I’ll be starting afresh. I am incredibly terrified and invigorated at the same time. My expectations are muddy simply because I know very little about what I’m getting myself into. I’ll be uprooting myself from my comfortable college campus in the States and studying abroad, and I knew full and well going into this that I’d likely be the only one from my school doing this particular program, but this only made the opportunity more enticing. I’m aware that very seldom do we get opportunities in life to try something new on our own volition. In life changes such as these, those who wait for our arrival are still strangers and not yet friends. We don’t have the luxury of confining ourselves to the comfort of background knowledge, because the territory remains uncharted. We are walking into the blue abyss, all alone, trusting ourselves and trusting God. It’s scary, but beautiful, and as I begin packing up my dorm, I blissfully think of this picture.
I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
When I was little, I dreamt of entering snow-dusted forests and discovering a hidden lamppost through fluttering flakes. I imagined what it would be like to ride a flying lion, or become acquainted with the hospitality of a beaver’s dam. I wrote letters to fairies. I fantasized every detail about my very own trip to Neverland, running alongside the Lost Boys, and grimacing as I breathed in the rum and danger that plagued the breath of Hook. I played, I sang, I danced, and my God, I dreamt.
Books have brought me farther in my journey to adulthood than any class I’ve taken, research I’ve conducted, or paper I have turned in. Books have constructed the soul that resides underneath my freckled skin; they have given me courage, wit, and adventure. I learned how to be a better friend by falling in love with the tales of Anne Shirley and Diana Barry. I have learned how to be a better daughter through the female-driven March family so wonderfully sculpted by Louisa May Alcott.
There is no braver way to go about the world than standing tall, chin held high, with your thumb tracing the binding of a book at your right side.
But lately, I’ve realized:
I can be brave. I can be loud. I can be strong. But I am always hungry.
I can vicariously live through the whimsical tales of pirates and flying boys and white witches, and I can try to write my own story, tasting every raindrop, feeling each eroded cobblestone .
But I’m hungry. And no adventure, in or out of a book, can satiate this craving I have.
You know when you finish a book, or even a part of a book, or perhaps an incredible poem, film, song, you name it, and you release yourself back out into the world with an electricity that penetrates your thoughts and infuses your blood and you briefly have a newfound desire to live and then
—you find that you’re incredibly disappointed.
Nothing out there can match up to whatever it was that you just put down.
It’s that high that we all get when we put down a novel that moves us that comes crashing down when we realize nothing other than that book can move you the same way. It’s already been felt, experienced, and now it’s back to sitting on your bedside table. All you can do is think about it over and over and over and reread it till the pages become brittle and then
But you see, these moments of artful ecstasy–where we find ourselves so inspired and the world for a flicker of a moment can be seen in colors unknown to the sleepy mind–we are simply tasting the sweet adventure of Creation. We are only feeling the warmth of a nearby flame.
These books that change us–they are only exclamation points in a novel we are currently living.
I am still the little girl who dreams of joining the Lost Boy brigade and leaving footprints behind as I enter a magical wardrobe–only now, I’m dreaming of a different Narnia. A different Neverland. I am only a larger child.
And there’s a reason why, when I look up from the book, the joy vanishes in a whisper.
It taunts. It leaves me searching this troubled world over for a source of love and light that lasts longer than a fraction of a second. I cannot find it here within my pages.
But I am not sad.
Someday, when my book is done,
I will get to look up
And not be disappointed.
Atlases that sit in your car pocket and are seldom opened, seen, examined. Road markings. Interstates. Route numbers. Highways. Little black dots with fine-print names and within those black dots names that go unprinted. Names with lives. Names with jobs and families and brittle hearts and full hearts and favorite radio stations preprogrammed in their cars. And in their side pockets–
Blue blobs, green blobs, streaks of blue that bleed across the page and into each other. Creation simplified. Creation obscured. Creation beckoning:
Come, see the eyes of our flowers, the bulbs of the dewdrops clinging to our heavy leafs, the morning vigil of the birds, the sanctity of our silence, the roaring of our waters. Come, and look up from your
Large words, small words, too many words. Makes you not want to look at it. Makes you confused. Makes you lost. Complication. Intimidation. Motivation?
No. Not now. Too many things. Large things. Little things. Job, family, brittle heart, full heart, favorite radio stations preprogrammed in your car.
All creation, all names–printed and unprinted–little blue veins and black veins and orange veins and green veins purposefully woven for your exploration
Back in your pocket. Seldom open, seen, examined.
I’m currently in the process of de-cluttering my room. My drawers are filled with makeup and journals from middle school. My walls are covered in One Direction posters. And my book shelves are overflowing… though, I don’t consider that kind of clutter to be too awful. However, now that I am in college, and beginning to think about the future process of moving out to live on my own, the plethora of unneeded knick knacks and neglected clothes that take up every inch of organized space in my room is beginning to stress me out.
This clutter extends far beyond my bedroom. This year, due to workload and numerous unfortunate circumstances that demand my attention, my faith has dwindled. I find myself praying only in times when I am in dire need. I can’t remember the last time I prayed just to pray. I began the year being really disciplined in doing my devotionals and journaling, but as the year progressed and the world around me began to crumble, I realized I had to put my Bible down to pick up the pieces.
I am not proud of this. But in the moment, I felt it was what I needed to do to survive — put God on the back burner until everything calmed down enough that I was able to redirect my attention to Him. I’m now beginning to see that things won’t calm down for quite a while, and this scares me.
Then, I think about God’s devotion to me.
Our world is currently plagued with war, corruption, and death. Refugee children are dying, we have a presidential candidate that wants to physically separate God’s children by building a wall, the racism and discrimination in our country that has always lurked in the shadows of our flag are now emerging into the light, and it is honestly terrifying. God watches all of this heaviness with a tearful eye. His children are turning on each other. His world is turning cold and dark. And with all of this, He still will always have time for us.
It’s amazing to think that with all of the “clutter” God has going on right now, and there is a lot, He never puts up the “do not disturb” sign. He listens to us. Even when we fail to speak directly to Him, He knows our desires. And even with all of this disorder in the world, He still has the time to embrace you and hold you when you need to ugly-sob.
Have you ever known anyone to love like that?
In my last post, I talked about how there are insecurities that we choose to never reveal to those around us. They are the monsters that lurk in the ocean’s darkest realms, sometimes going their entire lives undiscovered by others, maybe even undiscovered by us. God knows these monsters. He knows their existence and their purpose. He knows their intentions. He knows the damage they have done and will do, even when we are not able to see these things, ourselves. And He loves us despite the darkest creatures in our “oceans.”
Let us remember that God has the ability to tame the untamable. He can quiet nature’s most violent moments.
“Who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.”
I thought that when summer began, stress from school would subside, but then I enrolled in summer courses. I thought that the other chaotic aspects of my life would begin to resolve, yet I am still waiting.
If I have to wait until the next season of peace enters my life, I have a feeling I am going to be waiting for a long, long time.
I am impatient.
And yet, God has been incredibly patient with me.
It’s time for change. I know I can only have so much control over the things that happen to me. Many of them I don’t see coming, and most of them were not preventable. But one thing that I have control over is my time spent with God. I know that God is always present. He’s always here and always listening. But I have the ability to make the choice to pick back up that Bible and leave the debris on the ground. I know that in time, I will be given a free hand to clean up what’s been broken.
I’ve debated creating a blog for quite some time now. There’s a collection of reasons why I put off doing it. Admittedly, I feel that blogging has evolved into a hobby that anybody, and I mean absolutely anybody can and will do. I scroll through my social media and see blog share after blog share. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt and click on each one, only to be disappointed by the quantity of grammar errors, spelling mistakes, and posts of platitude. Every site contains either political views, “open letters,” or another reminder that the poster, yes the poster, is, too, imperfect. *gasp*
I got into a discussion with my boyfriend the other day about how vulnerability is becoming a trend. It isn’t real, raw, vulnerability, however. Our real scars, the ones each day we cover with makeup to hide, are not the ones that we eventually muster up the bravery to show. We decide to embrace the wears and tears that we choose not to patch up because it’s now the style to have loose threads. This, I have a problem with.
I’m going to attempt to bring in some imagery here without sounding too “basic.”
People, to me, are like oceans.
I know, I know. But let me explain: Calm oceans are beautiful, they let you see the vastness of their surface. Calm oceans are also, however, boring (unless you are on a boat… in which case, calm oceans are preferred, obviously). The image of an ocean in a storm seems much more beautiful, right? Waves are reaching thirty, forty, fifty feet high and crashing down on many, new-born waves, multiplying, roaring, and sending splashes of wrathful foam through bullets of rain. It seems a little more enthralling than the image of a minor swell. People’s presented insecurities are the oceans in storms, the images that excite us. Jennifer Lawrence falling in her dress on her way to accept her Oscar was a monumental moment for us women. We’ve been there. We know. Heels are not easy. And we can empathize when J-Law says she’d rather be eating pizza than wearing a gown.
But what about what’s going on below the crashing waves? What can we find if we plunge deeper, far beneath the storm that makes us beautiful? What about the monsters that lurk on the ocean’s floor? The things that continue to exist far below the surface, even when the storm surpasses? We choose not to show these, maybe because we’re actually insecure, or, maybe because it’s not in fashion.
I’m sounding incredibly critical right now. But if we, as a generation, are exposing the demons that we are told are safe to expose, are they really demons?
A part of me does, really, truly, like the current surge of honesty we see online. I don’t entirely mind it that it’s cool to be open about how you’d rather eat nachos than a salad, or how your bed is your one true love. These are all things to which I can relate. I want my future daughters to be able to feel confident enough to not care about people “hating on” their eating habits, messy hair, and acne scars. Our world is heading in this direction, as these things are now things we can admit to, and embrace, simply because we know others struggle with it, too.
It’s important to note, however, that it is because we are open with it that we can appreciate how relatable all of these struggles are. If these surface level flaws are now becoming not only accepted, but trendy, imagine what life would feel like knowing that your economic hardships, anxiety-induced hives, chronic nightmares, body hair, lopsided boobs, social ineptitude, extreme paranoia, cellulite, and any other concealed “imperfection” could be discussed, safe from judgment. What if our children could one day turn to a friend in class and tell them about a panic attack they had the previous night and the other person hug them as a response? And what if that kind of reaction was normal? -Nay, expected?
We are really moving there. Sexuality and mental illness are now becoming topics acceptable to discuss. Maybe not everyone is open to these things yet, but we’re getting there. And it should not go without saying that we do still have a long way to go.
I just want to say that I don’t think one’s sexual orientation, mental illness, or any other “flaw” I listed is really a flaw. I whole-heartedly believe that these things, though some of them may come with a challenge (and I know from experience that there are aspects of ourselves that bring struggle), can give our “ocean” life.
I’m not entirely sure where this blog is headed. I don’t know what you’ll be finding on here in future posts. My days usually consist of beginning exciting novels (and typically neglecting to finish them), pretending I’m a coffee snob, being mistaken for a ninth grader (I’m nineteen), rotting away while waiting for my friends to come home for the summer, and putting off unpacking my college clothes. Can’t say it’ll be exciting.
But then again, those are just my crashing waves.