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.