One tradition associated with the Camino is for pilgrims to bring a stone from home to leave at an iron cross, Cruz de Ferro, located near Foncebadón, Spain. The stone represents a burden that the pilgrim wants to leave behind as part of the pilgrimage.I was disappointed that we would not be passing this spot (it would have added 2 more days to our hike). After we arrived in Spain, I learned that the iron cross not the only place where pilgrims left these stones. In fact, stones could be seen on top of many of the mileage markers, as well as at the bottom of other crosses we passed by.
A number of people who start beyond Foncebadón inquire “where should I leave my stone?” And the most common answers are “you’ll know” and “it’s your Camino.” Marylynn brought a stone from home and left it in Santiago, near the Cathedral. I picked up a stone along the way and never found a place to leave it. So I brought it home and I painted a yellow arrow on it. For me, rather than being the symbol of a burden, it is a reminder of God’s grace as I continue on my journey.