When I was 25 years old I fulfilled a dream that I’d had since the age of 16. I walked across Spain. My 650 mile journey took me from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela and onward to Finisterre the furthest point on the Atlantic coast of Galicia in 29 days. Probably the most significant and important experience of my life, Santiago has become both my ancestral and spiritual home. It was me stepping off the cliff and into the abyss and discovering a world that has very long and deep roots for me, unbeknownst to me at the time. The implications of that journey have been far-reaching indeed and continue be so. I was lucky enough to return to Santiago de Compostela 12 years after completing my pilgrimage. I wrote the following poem shortly after I returned to UK shores.
The place where all my dreams convene.
The place that always draws me back,
That never leaves me nor leaves me dissatisfied.
In your streets I find solace and peace,
Like the many tentacled octopus from your maternal shores
Wrapped about my soul
In a warm but firm embrace,
Always guiding me,
Never relenting, nor allowing me to fall.
Always ensuring that I find my path again.
In you I find me and my many reflections;
Refractions of golden light glinting in the eyes and hearts
Of all who cross my path there; wondering who
Will look at me and know me and I them.
Who will remember that we have already
Walked the same path many times before,
Though distant in time, but not in memory.
Crystallised in memory,
Like a moth caught in amber
Vivid and eternal, preserved by the
Resinous tears of an ancient tree,
Whose azabache flesh made cold
And raven by the changing winds,
Gains warmth again in honour to the pilgrims who
Come home to you, and honour you
With their own stories and histories
As I have;
Standing tall and proud like your
Magnificent facades and buildings,
Spires and towers,
Cruceiros and lanzas,
Built in our name,
Studded with the many faces
That look at me through familiar eyes;
And decorated by the hands that placed the stones
That were carved by the spellswords that gave them life;
With foundations hundreds of years deep,
Like the roots of the giant eucalyptus trees
That support the field of stars above your Alameda
Reaching deep down into the earth
And into the many universes that
Converge where your heart beats;
Where my heart awakens and hears
Your pulse resounding in the deep timpanous
And primordial chimes of your cathedral bell
Reminding me that I have arrived;
And I feel cleansed by all that I see,
All that I hear, taste and smell of you,