Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Young Pilgrim's Tale

I embarked on a 60 miles pilgrimage from Ely to Walsingham from the 26th-28th of August and the next few paragraphs say it all

We arrived from London to Ely on the 25th of August. the women were entitled to a large hall where they could sleep and the men were to camp at the field of a farm house. I had never camped before so I decided to join them and it was quite nice! I chose a lovely spot under the tree and I assembled my first ever tent with the help of a great friend I met that day. The other days  I slept in the halls but camping was my best sleeping experience!
I actually kept a diary of the events that occurred and what I learned from it all so here is a bit of the pilgrimage from my perspective.

 Morning of the Pilgrimage:

"It's raining outside and it's quite cool. Really enjoyed my sleep even if I was almost awake every hour (due to excitement lol) the pilgrimage starts today and I think it would be really cool!
Found a few insects in my tent though, just remembered I did leave it open for a while...
Its actually not bad to camp at all! its really cool especially if you want to write a book or be closer to nature. it was a good experience"

N.B: the dinner that night was superb, for the Africans like me that have probably never tasted melted Butter on boiled Potato, you should try it! its delightful!
The calmness of the environment struck me, I think its a good idea for us to take some time off the noise of the city and spend time somewhere really quiet and peaceful, there you calm your heart and might even hear God speak to you or inspire you to write a beautiful piece.

Day One of the Walk (about 22 Miles)

"Today was mad!!! we had mass at st Ethrelda's  Catholic Church in Ely before we embarked on our journey. It poured and poured but it was really cool! walked for miles though but it was worth it. Passed lovely farmlands and saw beautiful Swans!"

N.B: I'm not exactly a fan of walking, I'd rather drive in a nice car with comfortable seats but in order to challenge myself  I went on this walk. It seemed difficult at first but after the first few hours  I  found myself carrying on and then the thought of walking such a distance left my mind and was replaced by the intention it was for which was a huge motivation! I wore trekkers instead of boots but it suited me quite well! God probably gave us more penance by sending the rain but I liked it in a twisted kind of way ( I'm sure I'm on my own with this one lol), it felt like I was in a scene of  The Lord of the Rings! I also got my very first pilgrim staff!

Day Two of the Walk (about 22 Miles)

 Today wasn't as wet as yesterday but the weather was playing tricks on us with sunny spells, rainy pours and droplets. same walking as yesterday but saw more animals. the scenery was really beautiful! we sang the Rosary  with lovely tunes and prayed some prayers.We visited a 500 year old mansion where priests were hidden in tiny holes in those days and we prayed the Dies Irae (one of my favourite Catholic chants) at a probable grave site then we walked some more. We had a lovely dinner of Shepherd's Pie and venerated the true Cross of Jesus which one of the very fortunate pilgrims had (God bless him!)

N.B: we stopped at intervals to eat and rest, this made it quite easy to walk for more miles (obviously) and also to meet other pilgrims which were very nice.  The chaplain Fr Bede Roe was wonderful! he heard confessions and spiritual direction, he also led the rosary and was a great friend to all. Wish more priests could be like him!  the hiding places created for the priests was moving, it showed  how Catholics suffered for the love of God and the faith.
The pilgrimage consisted of both old and young people and I realised that nothing is really difficult to do with the help of God because seeing children and old people walking this walk made me realise that I have been quite lazy spiritually!

Day Three of the Walk (about 11 Miles and The Holy Mile at Walsingham)

This seemed like a piece f cake judging from how long we walked the previous days. The Sun was out and there were a few rain droplets. we finally reached our destination where we paid a visit to the Slipper Chapel, had mass and walked the Holy Mile.

N.B: this ended the pilgrimage but it marked the beginning of many things for me. The pilgrimage made me appreciate the Catholic faith even more, it truly shows how we  all are pilgrims in this world on our journey to everlasting life, with Jesus Christ amidst the severe heat and rainfalls of the world that come in form of distractions and temptations. Praying and focusing on our goal keeps us motivated to finish our walk in the right direction. It also shows the beauty of catholic community! knowing you are not alone in this tedious journey to Heaven. I was honoured to ride and walk with special people like  Miss Woolven (the charming Nightingale), Mr Riley, (the fortunate Cross Bearer), Mr Bones/ Catholic Rock star, Mr Sean (the special hobbit) and Mr Smeaton ( the wonderful coordinator) we six make a good couple!

 I want to thank God for giving me this opportunity to experience this and for making it worthwhile. Its a very good idea to add going on a pilgrimage to your itinerary for the year. It might seem tasking but the blessings and graces gained from it will be immeasurable, show a little extra love for Our Lord and challenge yourself, embark on a pilgrimage and watch how it will change your life.
 Our Lady of Walsingham, Pray for us!

P.S: The Latin Mass Society is giving a very good early booking  offer for the pilgrimage next year, click here for more details

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