Monday, 13 December 2010

An outing to London.

Off to London last saturday to speak to the Confraternity of Pilgrims to
Rome. I really nice bunch of people. They all seemed to have walked
considerable distances, except the cyclists who had ridden even further.
The meeting was held in St James Church rooms at the side of the campus.
I think that I was disappointed with the church, which I had a little while
to look around before I was on. There was nothing about St James.
and nothing about modern day pilgrimage to Santiago.
I gave my talk about the Portsmouth Pilgrimage as part of a major
route to the tomb of St James. They were receptive, but it became
clear that they were rather daunted by the idea of a full blown Santiago
pilgrimage in the UK.
So much has been lost over these last 6oo years.
That is longer than the Moorish occupation of Spain! It is indeed a
long way to reach backwards. To the days before the reformers,
who had little understanding in these matters, who condemned
Pilgrimage as idolatry.
On the other hand here we were in a Church dedicated to
St James. Yes, it is a Wren church, but it takes it's name from the
locality and that comes from the ancient palace of St James,
the official royal address of our Sovereign Lady. All ambasadors
present their letters of authority to the court of St James. I
think we can go a little further. England is the only
place that had, and some say still has, a piece of St James, the
relic of his hand given to Reading Abbey by Henry I. This is
some believe the same hand that is in Marlow Roman Catholic
Church today. No other country has such presence of St James
as we have.
So looking back over the centuries, what must the devotion have
been like in those days. We have much to recover.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Is this the end of things!

If the following should seem a moan, I am sorry. It is meant to be an honest
reflection on the moment. As you will see it is a long time since I blogged.
In fact it is six weeks now. I expect that I have dropped off the radar
of many, which is a pity. Readers are hard to come by. I once talked to
a fellow blogger about what agonies I went though about getting a
readership together. She was much more successful than me and
had, by my standards a vast following. As I described my feelings,
the way I search to see who has visited my pages, she nodded her
head, she did the same thing. What comfort, I am not alone.
So where have I been all these weeks! The answer is,
nowhere. I have been holed up in Northampton. I have purchased a new
computer. I am deeply in love with it as it is an AppleMac. Clean, well
designed, fast and full of new toys. Getting it sorted has been a trial
and a joy. It thinks the way I do, unlike anything that
Mr Gates has had his hands on. But that is only the excuse. The
truth is that I have been out of sorts with planet pilgrim in all
its many forms!  You are wondering why this should be.
For that answer to have to go back to a few days before I went off
on the last pilgrimage. To the beginning of October.
It had been a warm week, summer was having its last flourish.
Then on the Saturday it rained. Warm gentle rain that brought a
welcome freshness to the day. So Liz and I went to Tesco.
On my feet I had a pair of my beloved crocks. They were
a little old and so had a rather worn underside. Walking into
Tesco over the zebra crossing my feet went from under me and
I went down on my knees. I landed in the prayer position. And
it hurt, especially in my left knee. I went on with the days'
business. The pain seemed to quickly go. And a few days
later I went on the pilgrimage from Porto. During that time my knees
began to tell me the damage that I had done. I didn't believe them
and carried on as best I could. Now I have found out that I
have torn the ligaments on the inside of the knee. I am also told
that it will take two months minimum and up to 12 months to heal.
I may also need a graft to bring about true recovery. So I hobble along,
cruising from furniture to doorpost like a child learning to walk. All
my plans for the next Camino in tatters, wondering if and when I will
walk with ease again.
The walk from Porto was a wonder, if rather painful at time. I had
some thoughts about Jacob. He was the guy who wrestled
with God all night until the dawn when God touched his hip and
made him lame. Ever after that he walked with a limp, to mark him out!
As the days unfolded I found my thoughts turning back to that story.
Is this my future? Then it came to me a few days ago.
Pilgrimage is meant to mark you. You should never be the same
again. I have wrestled with the Camino for six years now and I now
carry the scars in my body of those fights.
But does it have to bring the walking to an end?