The backpacks of light have been a way to remember that we are not what happens to us, but what we do with what happens to us.
The backpacks, born to heal us from the brutal damage that Covid19 is causing us, reflect the values intrinsic to the Camino de Santiago.
On July 24, the eve of the Apostle’s feast day, two backpacks entered the Cathedral of Santiago. They must have been two very special backpacks, as for years they have not allowed backpacks to enter the Seo Compostelana for security reasons, and because these two backpacks were not only opened to the public, but were also “seated” in a place of honor during a pilgrimage mass
What was so special about these backpacks? They had come from far away; one from Roncesvalles and the other from Porto. They had been set up during the months of confinement and had been carried on the shoulders of countless pilgrims who had carried them by relay to the gates of the Cathedral of Santiago… These very special backpacks were the two lively, luminous backpacks with which the Way wanted to pay homage and remembrance to the victims of the Covid19 , and they wanted to do so, in keeping with its essence, with the spirit of the pilgrimages as the guideline for the march: resistance, resilience, support, solidarity, cooperation instead of competition… This is how the goal is achieved.
This singular idea came from a veteran pilgrim: Jesus Christ and in it, perhaps unconsciously, he knew how to shape much of what this Way of the Stars teaches to those who have the patience and pleasure of listening to him on the stages that lead to the city of the apostle. For the creature’s father, the ‘fool’ as he called it, was an escape valve from the brutal pressure to which the war against Covid19 is subjecting us: the confinement, the loneliness, the fear and the uncertainty… the blind, quick and painless goodbyes… the cancelled hugs, the kisses from a distance… The time stopped to do nothing, holding back each one of our impulses “not going to be what”. All that which is driving anyone crazy, was a stimulus to Jesus Ciordia, an incentive to jump out of the mousetrap and find a way to turn adversity into opportunity; not to be what happens to us but what we do with what happens to us. “If we cannot get to Santiago”, he says, “if we can all carry a backpack with a light on it; the light of hope, the light that reminds so many and so many lights that have been extinguished during these months of confinement”. Thus was born ‘The Light of the Way’, a project that reminds us of the Light with capital letters that has always been associated with the Way of the Stars.
At first, a little push was enough and (like the Beatles) the help of their friends, for the dream to start: on June 19, the ‘Backpack of Light’ was sent from Roncesvalles and left the Collegiate Church as tradition dictates: with the blessing of the pilgrim. But already from the beginning, from his first steps, it was seen that the ‘Tontuna’ was no longer a simple initiative. The “Tontuna” had penetrated deeply among the people of the Way who had made it theirs, had understood it and were filling it with content: with hardly any publicity, with the almost exclusive claim of the social networks, the Mochila de la Luz did not go out alone. Already in that first stage a dozen pilgrims met silently in the Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles to march with it, to take it if possible, a few meters away and thus pay homage to the victims of the pandemic, to say goodbye to their loved ones, to heal from so much pain and from so much silent brutality.
History would repeat itself again and again, day after day, throughout the pilgrimage. To the ‘official’ carriers who had signed up on a list to facilitate the quartermaster’s office, were added countless spontaneous carriers who had made the initiative their own and wanted to contribute to this beautiful story.
And so, shoulder to shoulder, day by day, the Mochila has been growing in content and depth. In it the pilgrims loaded their prayers, petitions, reflections. In it they hung the symbols of their joys and their pains, the marks of suffering and the gestures of hope to, step by step, build a magnificent story of what it is to walk to Santiago de Compostela.
Not all the wounds will have closed, not all the goodbyes will have been possible. But this backpack, born to heal us, with its timid light and the collaboration of hundreds of pilgrims and hospitaliers who have lent their feet and shoulders to carry it to Santiago de Compostela, has served to frighten away the darkness and let us see a future in which everything is possible, even a happy ending.
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