el_staplador: (Default)
[personal profile] el_staplador posting in [community profile] pilgrimage
So I created this community, and then didn't do anything with it... Um, yes, sorry about that.

I thought it might be a nice idea to start making up for lost time with a picture, on the old 'thousand words' principle.

St Martha's Pilgrims - Old and New

St Martha's church lies just south of Guildford (ten miles away from me, I suppose?) on top of the North Downs. It is thought to have been a stopping point on the way to the tomb of St Thomas à Becket at Canterbury, and - as the cartoon suggests - remains a place of pilgrimage. The North Downs Way runs past it; you can still stop in on the way to Canterbury.

This sense of continuity is part of what I like about this cartoon. I can't see a date on it, but the 'modern' pilgrims seem to be wearing the hiking kit of the 1930s. I may wear quick-drying neopolywhatsit zip-off trousers, and carry telescopic aluminium hiking poles, but I'm as much a pilgrim as anybody in those two groups. Past and present meet and smile.

The general air of jollity is the other appealing feature. This seems to be a joyful journey. Is the caption meant to be ironic? Trying to raise questions about the distinction between pilgrims and tourists? I'm not sure. It's not obviously sacred on either part - the medieval pilgrims might have escaped from a children's edition of The Canterbury Tales. Have we always been questioning pilgrimage?

I don't know. But I still do it.

Date: 2012-07-18 10:40 am (UTC)
sashajwolf: Stone carving of scallop shell on background of a tree (shell on tree)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
The sense of continuity is part of what appeals to me about pilgrimage, too. I've done historic pilgrimage routes and modern ones, and the historic ones have felt more special. And yes, I like to think that if I could meet pilgrims from the 1930s or the Middle Ages, there would be smiles of recognition.

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