cruz la perla
“Somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.” Jack Kerouac
today is thanksgiving day. one year ago, on this very day, my dear dad came all the way to the island of key west from his mountain home in colorado to drive me to the airport in miami. we made our way slowly up the chain of islands on highway 1 in the pouring rain. i looked out across the warm waters of the gulf of mexico on one side and the atlantic on the other. i grew up in this territory of salt and sun. and now, i didn’t know how my destiny would unfold from here. i only knew that i could not stay. the road had been calling. and now, she was waiting for me. first to finisterra to pull myself together. to prepare. and then, a whole year on the holy road.
i have made it to the cruz de ferro (iron cross) situated on a plateau of monte irago. there is a long oak post with a small iron cross attached to the top and rises up from a large pile of stones. pilgrims have been laying a stone at the cross for centuries. the prayer of the cruz de ferro is: ‘lord, may this stone, a symbol of my efforts on the pilgrimage that i lay at the foot of the cross, weigh the balance in favour of my good deeds some day when the deeds of my life are judged. let it be so.’ for many pilgrims the ritual also denotes the symbolic laying down of a burden.
i have chosen to leave a pearl. this pearl comes from a mala that was handmade for me by a friend and then given to me by a teacher before my last pilgrimage. it broke in my hand the day i arrived in santiago. they say that when a mala breaks, it is auspicious. i have carried 12 pearls with me since then that represent twelve people in my life that have supported me as an artist as well as on my journey. this one that i leave here at the cross, disappearing between the stones and snow has nothing to do with burdens or sorrows. a small and precious symbol. wisdom. the grit of the journey. beauty formed slowly over time. a treasure. i leave this small treasure as a gift. an offering to the road. as a symbol of thanks giving for all that i have received. blisters and blessings. rain and sun. loss and love. shadow and light.
and now, i still have a mountain to climb o cebreiro. and about 255 kilometers of stones, mud, snow and Way to place my feet upon. pilgrims to connect with. experiences to live. prayers to lay down. i am a long, long way from the end of the earth. finisterra. where on the last day of this holy year, if i make it, i will dig up the message in a bottle that i wrote to myself. it waits for me on that long stretch of beach. and then, i hope that i will know where my road will take me from there. but i don’t have to know that just yet. … today, i wanted to put these words down. for you. a thanks giving on thanksgiving. i have to be honest that i don’t know if i am any wiser or closer to enlightenment. but i am doing my best to lean in to my truth. and maybe the most important, through the distance of miles and the space of time, i can feel the love of my life. the loves of my life. my family and friends. the pilgrims and care takers of pilgrims. peaceable kingdoms and three-legged dogs. animals. forests. the elements. all things. by being near to all of these things, i have discovered that i have a capacity. for big love. and it reminds me of the line in the eat, pray, love film when richard from texas in india says … clear out some of that space in your head. open a doorway. … and God will rush in.
and so, somewhere along the line, the pearl has been handed to me. god has rushed in. now, i bless it. and i give it away. i can’t hold on to anything on this journey. this was one of the conditions. love and life rests gently on an open palm.
i send love from my road to yours. happy thanksgiving.