Before the influx of pilgrims meant rearrangements of the traditional way to enter the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostella, those who had completed the Camino de Santiago entered by the Eastern door and left via the West door. In the same way they had walked across Spain from east to west, so too did they enter and leave the cathedral. Turn around as you leave this great Western door and you will see carved into the stonework a massive representation of the Cross of St James, and yet this time the traditional symbols of Alpha and Omega have been reversed. Omega then Alpha. With the months involved in carving this work, it is extremely unlikely that this was a stonemason’s mistake.
What then is being proclaimed by this symbol? That what you thought was the end is actually the beginning.
It’s all a question of story. Stories are how we know who we are. They become our inner shelter of belonging. We source our sense of self through stories; we need stories to shape our identity. We are formed as stories emerge to frame our boundaries. The trouble is, right now we are between stories. We can no longer trust that Earth has unlimited capacity to provide for our rampant consumerism. We no longer trust our governments, our places of worship, our law enforcement agencies, our families. The meta-stories within which we framed our knowing no longer hold true. It is easy to create a long list of the implications of living between stories. Mental illness, suicide, mass migration of refugees, environmental devastation – all these are part of a world that appears to be disintegrating. Hope is now a fragile concept.
We live in one of the most precarious yet exciting moments of human history, shaped by both unprecedented pressures and opportunities. At this time, for our species, for our planet, we need to find new stories, stories of hope. We need stories that speak to the transformative moments when what appears to be the end is actually the beginning of the next.
We are living at a hinge or turning point in human history. Transformation has always taken place at such times.
(To be continued in Gesher 2021)