Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: camino, Ernesto Cardenal, holy saturday, Holy Week, photography, photos, poetry
Behind the monastery, down by the road,
there is a cemetery of worn out things
there lie smashed china, rusty metal,
cracked pipes and twisted bits of wire,
empty cigarette packets, sawdust,
corrugated iron, old plastic, tyres beyond repair:
all waiting for the Resurrection, like ourselves.
– Ernesto Cardenal
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: birmingham, Holy Week, photography, photos, poetry, roy fisher
a day for Roy Fisher’s poetry today
“In this city the governing authority is limited and mean: so limited
that it can do no more than preserve a superficial order. It supplies
fuel, water and power. It removes a fair proportion of the refuse,
cleans the streets after a fashion, and discourages fighting. With
these things, and a few more of the same sort, it is content. This
could never be a capital city for all its size. There is no mind in it, no
regard. The sensitive, the tasteful, the fashionable, the intolerant
and powerful, have not moved through it as they have moved
through London, evaluating it, altering it deliberately, setting in
motion wars of feeling about it. Most of it has never been seen.”
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Holy Week, photography, photos, poetry, seamus heaney
this morning they were queuing up to get into St Bede’s for Mass
In amongst all the pain and joy of Holy Week I am reflecting on the union and unity of it all.
Reading Seamus Heaney
So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a farther shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.
Suspect too much sweet talk
But never close your mind.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Geoffrey Hill, Holy Week, photography, photos, poetry
this evening reading Geoffrey Hill:
So, the fifth day, I turned again
To flesh and blood and the blood’s pain.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: paths, photography, photos, pilgrimage, walking
Stand at the crossroads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: cistercian way, penrhys, photography, photos, pilgrimage, the cistercian way, wales, walking
Maddy and I caught the bus to Pontypridd, accompanied by Pilgrim Nell the springer spaniel. At least I walked all the way from the edge of Abergavenny round to Penrhys. I had walked this final leg just over a year before as part of a large group pilgrimage; it was good to do it more quietly.
Climbing up on old roads, woods and fields, hills. Finding our way past windfarms (I am now always led to reflect on the similarities and differences between these and those of La Mancha). Good fencing and stiles meaning passing a slippery, muddy dog across. Ynysybwl, Buarth Capel, Nant Ffrwd, Mynachdy. Arriving in good time for lunch at Llanwynno. We climbed down to St Gwynno’s Well, very overgrown, but worth finding (much easier if you have a spaniel with you). Another of those saints no one knows anything about. I love this – a very definite reason for devotion. I have an icon in my Study of two adult and one child saints. I have no idea who they are; this seems of utter importance.
And then to the pub (Llanwynno has not much more than a well, a Church and a pub in a clearing in the forest. Perfect.
Over the course of an hour, cheese sandwiches and a pint or two, a wonderful thing happened. Almost everyone who had been involved in supporting me on the pilgrimage arrived.
Together we climbed up over the tops, down to Tylorstown and then up the steep climb to Penrhys. A visit to the well and then the Church for prayers, tea and cake. And for me, hospitality for the night. More on Penrhys tomorrow …
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: cistercian way, earlswood, photography, photos, pilgrimage, the cistercian way, twmbarlwm, wales, walking, wentwood
There followed several wonderful days on this homeward stretch, making my way round towards Penrhys, stopping at Caerleon, Risca and Pontypridd, again with wonderful hospitality from friends to allow me to finish the pilgrimage. I lost my hat. I shredded my trousers making an ill-advised short cut over a fence when I had got very slightly off route. On a couple of days I found an odd thing with my speed. Conditions underfoot and my knee meant two mornings where I was averaging around one mile an hour. I knew I had to put speed on to make it to my ending points in time. Somehow I made well over three miles an hour. I am not sure how this happened.
A day of three woods – Chepstow Park, Earlswood (which is no longer there), and the Wentwood. Sandwiches by the beautiful Earlswood Methodist Church, built by the labour of local women in the eighteenth century. Taking the wrong path, but finding it came out in the right place. On the ridge above the Usk north east of Caerleon, a precious few minutes walking along one of the last bits of the old pilgrim way from London to St Davids that is not under a main road.
A morning happily looking round Roman remains, twisting my knee slightly climbing down muddy, steep Lodge Hill. Deciding this meant it was better to head for Risca via minor roads rather than the paths of the Cistercian Way – and then finding out that this would have been the route taken by sick and infirm pilgrims. Recovering enough to climb Twmbarlwm.
Climbing up and down the Valleys, finding my way up and around Mynydd Machen. Very moving to be above the Valleys on the 50th Anniversary of Aberfan, reflecting and praying on this, passing men wearing black suits, the flags at half mast, feeling the anger.
A farmer offering accommodation and quad biking for youth work. A small holder asking where I was bound exclaiming “Penryhs! It’s God’s country there!”