By Rev. Shana Lynngood, Guest Blogger
What a magical journey this has been! We have had glorious weather each day, found the Camino a beautiful and hospitable pilgrimage location, we have created meaningful connections with one another, and then there was today’s worship at the Cathedral in Santiago.
It probably goes without saying that as a minister I am a church nerd. I enjoy almost every worship service I attend. Even bad worship is good because it allows time for reflection and opportunities for reverence, gratitude, and celebration. And yet, I can honestly say that I have never experienced worship like this afternoon’s Pilgrim’s Mass.
As we climbed the stairs of the Cathedral I led several members of our group in singing a chant-like song taught me by Christian colleagues. “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” We sang it with feeling—we meant every word (no one said, “I can’t sing, Lord”)
Then there we were, gathered in a congregation of people from around the world who had traveled the same roads (or some other variation of the Camino which has routes that originate in Portugal as ours did, France, and other parts of Spain) and carried some of the same intention as we had. As the service began a nun stepped up to the lecturn, opened her mouth and sung in soul-piercingly beautiful tones traditional Latin mass hymns. Suddenly, I knew that even if my meager Spanish would only allow me to understand part of what was said in the service, my heart would hear clearly what I most needed to be recalled to.
Worship happens when we are transported from our “regular” modes of being into a place of humility and awe. When we are reminded (as we have been many times over on this pilgrimage) that grace is abundant and that life is a gift. The priest read a litany of the numbers of people from each country represented at the Mass. He led us in prayers for those without jobs, the poor, the ill, the sad or hurt. And the nun sang a chant I had led our group in several days before—Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Where there is charity and love, God is there also. It felt like this charmed journey had its exclamation point. I sang these words full-throated, full-hearted because I believed them as never before.
The Camino showed us charity and love and the presence of God has never felt more imminent. Blessed Be. Amen.