Pilgrimpace's Blog

advent calendar 8
December 15, 2016, 8:11 pm
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If you can listen to Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra this week, there are some gems:

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey

Richard Holmes’ The Long Pursuit (which reminded me of the fantastic chapter in Footsteps where he follows RLS and Modestine)

and Babette’s Feast.

Apart from The Box of Delights, what more could you want in the third week of Advent?

walking and the mind
December 22, 2013, 3:49 pm
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I caught a few minutes of BBC Radio 4’s Something Understood while I was getting ready first thing this morning.  It’s on ‘Walking and the Mind’ and looks well worth a listen if you get a chance.  It’ll be on iplayer for a week and is repeated at 11.30 tonight (it’ll be iplayer for me at some point tomorrow – three masses this morning; home communion this afternoon; and a carol service this evening will take their toll).

Here’s the programme description from the BBC website:

John McCarthy explores the effects of walking on the mind – on our creative and spiritual well-being.

We all know that a good walk is physically good for us, but we rarely stop to consider its impact on our mental states. Was Friedrich Nietzsche right when he said, “all truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”?

Walking, especially walking in countryside, has been important to many creative artists and writers. Beethoven, Erik Satie and Benjamin Britten all used their daily walks for inspiration, as did William Wordsworth as he tramped the paths of the Lake District with his sister Dorothy.

John McCarthy looks at the act of walking as inspiration and also considers its spiritual function. Why do so many people, from a wide variety of religious beliefs, walk to display their devotion and increase their spiritual understanding? Around the world, millions set out each year along the great pilgrimage routes, and often travel on foot.

John McCarthy talks to the British artist Richard Long, whose work often describes walks he has undertaken or imagined. He also talks to Colin Thubron – one of our finest writers about discovery and place – who recently made the arduous journey on foot around Mount Kailash in Tibet, sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists.

lenten journey 3
February 16, 2013, 10:15 am
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walking in mindful silence

try to make some space to walk on your own or in silence with another

try to really see

to listen

to feel and smell


you might like to listen to Radio 4’s Ramblings programme on walking silently here

April 23, 2012, 3:47 pm
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If you get a chance to hear Book of the Week on Radio 4 this week it is Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie.  Excellent.  A book to buy too.

vasily grossman

BBC Radio 4 are about to embark on a series of programmes about Vasily Grossman, the astonishing twentieth century Russian author who, for me, is on a par with Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

Look out for the dramatisation of Life and  Fate– and even better read it.  There’s a very good introductory article by Francis Spufford in The Guardian here:

With any luck, a public much larger than the one that encountered the novel in Robert Chandler’s excellent English translation will soon recognise Life and Fate as all the things critics say it is: one of the great narratives of battle, a moral monument, a witness-report in fiction from the heart of 20th-century darkness, an astonishing act of truth-telling.

I’m looking forward to this and settling down now with my copy of Everything Flows.

round up

Mabey in the Wild is on Radio 4 on Sunday afternoons for the next few weeks.  Listen to his history of wild daffodils here.

Something Understood yesterday was on the healing power of gardens.  Listen here.

There’s a very interesting new book called Pathways by David Stewart and Nicholas Rudd Jones, looking at historical routes in Britain.  The Guardian is publishing  a walk a day from it here.

This book is on my Christmas list.

pilgrimage to the recesses of the heart

pilgrimage to the recesses of the heart

I heard this wonderful phrase a night or two ago on the radio programme A Good Read as the contributors discussed Richard Holmes’ book Footsteps.  I have found it to be enigmatic and suggestive, and is certainly something that I want to live with for a while, something I want to chew over, to let rest within me, to meditate upon.

Immediately it is making connections with the quotation from Joyce Rupp that I posted a few days ago and the thoughtful responses from Robert and Anna-Marie, reflecting on their experiences of pilgrimage in Spain.  The phrase is a wonderful reminder that pilgrimage is not just about the physical challenge of walking a long way (although this can be enough), but that it is an internal journey that is also set before us if we wish.  The invitation to explore the recesses of the heart, to journey deeper into the heart and the soul.  As with walking, this can be wonderful and it can also be hellishly hard.  As Rupp reminds us, we can change for the bad as well as for the good.  For myself, I pray for the grace of God and for the help of those around me that the change might be good, and that I might be ready continually to obey Christ’s command “Follow me”, or as Meister Eckhart so wonderfully puts it:

Put on your travelling shoes and jump into the arms of God.