Carrying and Releasing a Stone
There is a tradition of carrying a stone from home that many people who walk the Camino de Santiago continue to follow. So, what’s up with the stone, and why I am I talking about it for The Way of Stella Maris?
The stone symbolizes something for each pilgrim. It could be a hope, past hurt, sin, burden, worry, a person, or a sense of gratitude, or anything the stone represents to you. Along the most popular route of the Camino de Santiago, there is a ritual at the Crux de Ferro where the pilgrim leaves the stone they have carried from home at the foot of a cross. Crux de Ferro is roughly 200km from Santiago, so about 3/4 the way from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. For the first 3/4 of the pilgrimage, the pilgrim considers the stone, its purpose and deepens in the discipline of letting go.
Here are a couple reflections on the stone I found online:
“I collected my three small stones, all Yorkshire sand stone as I walked along a ridge in Nidderdale Uk. The thoughts were much heavier than the stones as I remembered those love ones I had lost.
When I reached the Cross the few pilgrims there, were just about to leave, so in the thick mist I climbed up alone and placed the stones at the foot of the Cross and said my prayers. It was such a powerful moment I came down off the hill in tears, but unburdened .
It is a very special place!!”
“I collected my rock - a small piece of sandstone - from the beach at Darook Park in Cronulla, one of Sydney's southern suburbs. It came from a place where my late Dad loved to fish. Mum and Dad would take us swimming at 'Darookie' when we were kids and it's always been a significant place for our whole family. As I dedicated my Camino last year to my parents, I thought that taking a rock to the Cruz de Ferro from a place that was special to Dad would be something that he would have loved. Leaving the rock at the Cruz de Ferro was overwhelming - honouring both my parents in such a sacred place for pilgrims.”
What will your stone symbolize for you?
The attached image is of a large crucifix in the Saint Andrew’s Cemetery, Eastern Passage. We will walk by it on our fourth day, a few kilometres before arriving at Saint Andre’s hall, where we will spend the evening. I invite you to leave your stone at the foot of this cross.
For the Way of Stella Maris, I am going to ask that you carry two stones. One for your own personal intentions and one for the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth as we navigate our way through this period of transition. Will you bring a stone as a symbol of your prayers for Archbishop Mancini and Archbishop Dunn, our pastors, priests, deacons and all of our leadership teams?
We will carry our second stone to Saint Mary’s Cathedral Basilica and leave it at the foot of the Cross, which will be placed on the bottom step of the sanctuary after we are welcomed into the Cathedral by Archbishop Mancini.
Here are a few verses of scripture to meditate upon as you consider your stone:
“Come unto me and you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matt 11:28-30
“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.”
- Isaiah 41:13
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” - Isaiah 43:1
“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” - Galatians 6:2