After arriving in Santiago last week, getting my compostela (certificate of completion), and walking out to Fisterra and Muxía with John (58 more miles), I feel quite satisfied and rewarded about having done it all and having seen most things here.
But in the end what wound up to be the peak moment was ‘seeing it swing’.
Because most people aren’t really sure what to call ‘it’, it winds up being called ‘it’, or ‘the thing’. But actually it is called a botefumeiro, and it is a giant thurible in which incense is burned as part of the liturgy during a church service. Learn all about it here.
After arriving in Santiago on foot, many pilgrims go right to the next Pilgrims Mass at the Cathedral hoping to ‘see it swing’. Up and down the Camino, especially toward the end, there is much talk about whether it will swing when they get there. And if not, when will it, and how will we know. Everybody wants to see it swing, but not everybody gets to. Rumor has it that it swings on church holidays, or when someone pays 400+ euros. To be certain, the Camino journey itself IS the reward, but it really is a big extra bonus for those who get to see it swing, kind of like extra icing on your cake.
This practice has been going on for centuries. Historically the botefumeiro was used to help heal, purify, and maybe disguise the smell of unwashed pilgrims who once slept upstairs in the cathedral. Now it’s meaning has changed to symbolize blessings going out to the pilgrims who have finished their pilgrimages.
I feel so fortunate to have gotten to ‘see the thing swing’. I think a big tour group probably paid for it. Click here to see what it looks like. It’s worth the 4 minute watch.
It sure is nice for all of us to see the full reward of our hard work and accomplishments, as I have been able to do here. So no matter what your hard work consists of, be it a big project at work or any other endeavor, my wish for you is that you get that extra icing on the cake, your full satisfying reward, that you ‘get to see it swing’.
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