Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The ends of the earth.....

Medieval Christians believed that if the gospel was being preached in Finisterre, then the good news had "reached the ends of the earth." Finisterre is a peninsula that marks the westernmost part of continental Europe. I was at the westernmost part of Ireland visiting the cliffs of Moher, and there was a sign clinging to the windswept cliffs that said: "Next pub: Boston!" I looked for a similar sign at Finisterre -- "Next cerveceria: Boston!!!" But didn't find one.

The ancients put Finisterre on their maps painting nothing beyond it but oceans and leviathans. Beyond Finisterre was a realm of darkness. As the German tourist brochure we were reading put it: "Reich der Dunkelheit." The sun descended into this realm every night. Only a miracle brought it up in the morning.

We watched the sun set into the grey Atlantic last night on the rocky coast of Finisterre. A lighthouse guards the treacherous coastline, as well as launching the pilgrimage route that leads from Finisterre to Santiago.

There were lots of other pilgrims huddled in the rocks watching -- and when the sun set, we all cheered.

We were cheering the setting of the sun; we were cheering the sure knowledge that it would come up the next day; we were cheering the end of our various Caminos.

We were cheering miracles, old and new.

And yes, I caught sunrise the following morning, again with a bunch of tired pilgrims. And yes, we cheered then too.

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