Sunday, 28 February 2010

We are off.

We here we go again. This time it is a very short walk. Just enough to blow the winter blues away. Tomorrow morning I and another member of Peterbrough Pilgrims to Santiago, called Roger, will fly to Madrid. Then on the train to Sahagun and onward to Moritinos to see Rebekah and Paddy to discuss a few things with them about linking our Confraturnity to their work with Pilgrims. We are there until Wednesday when we will be catching the train again, this time to Ourense. We will walk the 110k to Santiago from there. Stay a nighty in Santiago and go down the valley to O Curruna to fly home to Heathrow a week on tuesday. I am really looking forwars to this trip. When I first thought about it,this trip was going to be an early december retreat and it is now lent.Time flies. So farewell for a few days. I may be able to post we shall see.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

We are Pilgrims on the journey!

Yeah! I know this has been a long week,and this post is really 10 days overdue. First lesson of Pilgrimage;nothing quite goes as you expect it. Sorry anyhow.
A number of things have been happening to me in the days since I last posted here. One of them is that I am going to Spain on Monday. This coming Monday 1st March. You may have already worked out that I lead a small confraternity in the middle of England. This fraternity has struck up a friendship with two wonderful supporters of pilgrims who live on the Camino. They are real friends to all who stop by at their place. Anyway this friendship is developing into something practical and useful that allows us be more involved with other pilgrims as they pass thought their hands. For us it is a halfway house to establishing an Albergue of our own. So, I and another member are going to make a visit to them to see their place and cement the friendship. We will be there two nights with the day between to talk and see how they are. But after that......... we are free to go off on a short pilgrimage of a few days, call it a Lenten retreat, Yippee.
We have decided that it would be a good thing to go for a Compostela for the collection, and that means that we must end up at Santiago. I have walked the Camino from St Jean, and also the way up from Oporto. So we have decided to set off from Ourense. 110k . Far enough, but not that far. It has however produced some interesting and I must say surprising thoughts in my head.It has occurred to me that these are exactly the questions that I had in my mind before I went on my first pilgrimage. Questions such as:- Will there be Albergues on the way? Will they be open? Do these folk who give advise on the forum really know what they are talking about? Will it be very cold or will I die on a hillside somewhere for want of food and somewhere to stay?
Now I know for my own experience that the answer to all these questions is that things will be fine. It will be great time. That does not stop the doubts for long. It has helped me see more clearly once again, what it is like to be a novice pilgrim. The answer to me and everyone is held in the wonderful words of Lady Julian of Norwich: All will be well, and all manner of things will be well!
Julian's words call us to faith that what lies ahead is safe and supported by people who know what they are doing. Julian is speaking about the whole of life. This in itself helps us begin to realise that the little worked example of life that we call a pilgrimage is meant to be writ large on our lives. That it is though this nursery experience of pilgrimage that we learn, maybe for the first time what it is to walk by faith.
If you are planning your first pilgrimage, watch the way that the faith you have now that it will be ok turns into the solid assurance of sellos in your credential.And in the words of a sixties song, 'Put your hand into the hands of the man who walked on water'.
The lesson, walk by faith and let others take the load. All will be well.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

So, you've signed up for Santiago Pilgrimage!

So, you have signed up for a pilgrimage to Santiago. You have heard the stories and tales from others about this important life event. In some way or another it seems a cool idea. Well, it did when you committed to it. Now you are not so sure. You have begun to think about what it really entails. All that walking. 750 k from St Jean. You are thinking that you were mad to agree. You will never make it. It is too far. You're over 50 perhaps and didn't think that you would take on this sort of physical challenge again. And here you are, with 2,3,4,5,6. months to prepare for the impossible! You are perhaps looking for the door marked exit, so that you do not have to go.....but others are expecting you to be there and you cannot let them down.
You have found this forum and it has added to your confusion. The old timers speak freely about routes and Albergues. They speak of the generosity of those along the way and it seems too good to be true.
Well; you can do it, no matter how it feels today and tales of generosity and modestly priced Albergues are true. The experiences of others that are offered on this site are reliable, so make use of them and ask as many questions as you can bring to mind. If it helps, my first pilgrimage is recorded further back on this blog. Read it, who knows you may find it helpful.
These matters are not really my main concern. I focus on the Spiritual aspects. You may not have thought about this facet of pilgrimage or it maybe the reason you are going or any point between. The one thing that I can promise is that your pilgrimage with surprise you beyond words. You may not have any faith whatsoever or a very small one that is a hang over from childhood experiences. No matter. The spiritual is in every breath of your trip. For some it helps develop their faith, others gain a growing awareness of things spiritual that is in spite of God rather than because of him. The long hours on the hillsides of Spain have their effect. We become reconnected to ourselves and nature. For city types this is awesome But we are getting ahead of where you are now.
So what do I say about now. That is easy. Your pilgrimage has already started. Everything that you do is part of the adventure. The journey does not start on the plane or at the airport, or even in France, Spain or Portugal, it began the moment you said yes. The preparations are as much part of the experience as arriving in Santiago. So enjoy these days and look to see what they can teach you about who you are and what you need in life!
I shall be posting on this blog about once per week, So come and join me again. I hope it will be useful. You have my prayers. Ian Holdsworth

Monday, 8 February 2010

A Change of direction

There you have it. In the title. I am about to go in a different direction. Why I can hear you say? Simple. I reply. Because it is time. There is a rhythm to most things, even pilgrimage. In some ways I have been going against the natural cycle of things. So now is time to go with the flow rather than six months too late or too early depending on one's point of view. When I started this blog nearly a year ago, I thought that it would be easy to get through the early stages of description of my first pilgrimage, so that I could get on to the things that really interested me, namely exploring a practical theology of pilgrimage. Well it wasn't quick, and it took much longer than I thought that it would. So when everyone was coming to the end of the pilgrimage season and was thinking about a nice warm winter at home, my blog was still out on the hills taking about exploring the experience. Recently I have been speaking about keeping the experience alive, when a new crop of pilgrims are wondering if they have done the right thing signing up for along walk in the Spanish countryside, and by the way, what is a pilgrimage anyway? So now is the time to begin to go back to the very first days of pilgrimage and think about the spiritual nature in sync. with the stage folk are at. So amigos the next post, which I hope will be tomorrow, will start to meet the needs outlined. God Bless you all!