Pilgrimpace's Blog


camino retreat – in santiago

An extraordinary day, adding to the depth we had encountered in the walking and fellowship.

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Our Merry Band was given wonderful hospitality by the Cathedral.  We were invited to have an Anglican Eucharist in one of the Chapels.  By wonderful serendipity, it was the Chapel of San Andres – taking us back to our beginning at Teixedo.  This tough and rugged saint was a very suitable patron for the week.

During the Eucharist, we continued to reflect upon our theme of the Gospel Journeys and how our own journeys weave into them.  We heard TS Eliot’s Journey of the Magi

A cold coming we had of it

just at the worse time of year

and thought about what it might mean to arrive in this luxury of a couple of days of gift, grace and space.  We prayed through the suffering and difficulty we encounter in our own lives – all very committed to serving others in different ways – and in the world, and how pilgrimage might be a strengthening of love and compassion rather than a turning away.

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After Mass, some of us walked through Santiago to Sar, to the Church of Santa Maria la Real, a Romanesque gem.  We rested in the silence of the interior lit up and warmed by hundreds of candles from the Festival of San Blas a day or two before.  On the way up the hill we drank Estrella Galicia in a small bar where men played poker.

I was woken sharply from siesta by condensation dripping on my head.  When Mike took the mickey out of me, Buddha fell on his.

We were asked to return to the Cathedral for the evening Mass and were taken to special seats in the Sanctuary and welcomed by Dean Segundo.  We were extremely close to the Botafumeiro.

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Then off for more.  Dinner at the Gondola with wonderful food and wine, and then a quemada at the end, the incantation specially written by John to reflect our journey.

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A day so full of gift, and we were not finished yet …

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middle march 3

  If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid.

I’ve been thinking about these words of TS Eliot from Little Gidding in Four Quartets as I have been plodding over the past days.  I am not sure about putting off sense and notion, it is hard to do this walking through a rich and varied landscape (and there is also the need not to fall over).  But this journey is about visiting some places where prayer has been valid and I know that compulsion to kneel.  Time to reflect more deeply on the connections between prayer, place, walking, landscape and holy sites.



from my front door – middle march
August 17, 2012, 10:43 am
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I’ve a bit of holiday at the moment which I’m taking at home.  As well as enjoying time with my family and catching up on sleep and rest, I’ve been inspired to start a pilgrimage from home, walking in daily sections, using the bus and train to get home, visiting places in which “prayer has been valid”.

I have a good idea of my final destination and of many of the places I will visit on the way

although I will develop this as I go.  I am hoping to make a journey where there are a mixture of walking styles, slow and fast, long and short days, times of going off the beaten track and making detours, seeing what is over the hill.  This may take some time.

I began three days ago, on a hot humid day walking to Lapworth through tunnels of green

‘Four Quartets’, sandwiches and a stove and tea makings in my pack.  There was a pause at the Blue Bell Cider House for a pint that was of lumenscent orange, matching the dragonflies sporting over the water.  I hoped to get to Baddesley Clinton to see the priest holes again where Catholic clergy hid during persecution but timing meant stopping at Lapworth so I could get the train home.

the name is a camino reminder

I will pick up the trail soon and report back.

And I need a name for this pilgrimage…



lenten journey – sixteen
March 30, 2012, 2:32 pm
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I’ve just been listening to a mesmerizing reading of TS Eliot’s The Wasteland by Eileen Atkins and Jeremy Irons on BBC Radio 4.  The link to it on the website is here where you can listen again.  If you can, read it this Lent (click here)

He who was living is now dead

We who were living are now dying 

With a little patience



going too far
February 13, 2012, 10:24 am
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I found this fantastic picture on facebook.  I must admit to a great debt to Eliot. One day perhaps I’ll write something of the great influence Four Quartets has had on the ministry of this parish priest.



ash wednesday
March 9, 2011, 7:59 am
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Part I of TS Eliot’s poem Ash Wednesday.  Have a good and holy Lent.

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.



journey of the magi
January 9, 2011, 6:38 pm
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Radio 4’s excellent Adventures in Poetry discusses TS Eliot’s Journey of the Magi here.

It’s a very good programme which has added to my appreciation of the poem.  I have not read it since I walked the Camino and am now pondering it in the light of that experience.

You can listen to Eliot read it and read the poem here.