[sticky entry] Sticky: Welcome!

Jan. 8th, 2012 08:39 am
el_staplador: (Default)
[personal profile] el_staplador
This community is intended to be a hospitable space for discussion of both the practical and spiritual aspects of pilgrimage. All are welcome to join and to post (openly or community-locked, whichever makes you feel more comfortable) anything relating to pilgrimage: accounts of your own journeys, interesting links, questions, requests for advice - anything!

Please be respectful and courteous when posting or commenting on this community, and remember:
- that there is no 'right' way to do pilgrimage. Some people walk barefoot; some people take a bus. Please avoid pilgrimage snobbery.
- that pilgrimage is an important aspect of many faiths. Please respect other people's beliefs.
el_staplador: Ceiling of Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, cropped to resemble shell. Caption: 'Buen camino, peregrino' (pilgrimage)
[personal profile] el_staplador
'You meet angels, of course,' someone said. Was it Marie-Noëlle at the Emaús house in Burgos? If so, we had met one only that day.

Even if not, we knew what she meant. We had met angels; ours carried umbrellas.

At Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, two days into the pilgrimage, and with the forbidding snowy bulk of the Pyrenees looming ahead of us, the hospitalero came out, umbrella in hand, into the drizzle to point us the right way to cross them – away from the Route Napoleon, towards the gentler, safer way.

At Roncesvalles, a lifetime later and somehow still the same day, with night sweeping in along with the snow, we were frozen, soaked, lonely, exhausted; we had abandoned the waymarked Camino on the grounds that the road was a lot easier to follow – and as we struggled down the last few metres into the village, a monk emerged from the restaurant, his habit brushing the fallen snow and his umbrella raised aloft against what was still coming down. 'Peregrinos? Vamos!' he said, and swept us into the monastery, to shelter, warmth, and a bed for the night.

At Logroño, leaving before daybreak, and already uncomfortably conscious of our propensity to get lost in cities, we missed our way. Grey sky, grey pavements gleaming under the street lights, and rain, and a man with an umbrella to point us back in the right direction.

At Burgos, a glorious, sun-soaked Easter Day, and another city to get lost in. And another angel with an umbrella to put us back on the right path, or, rather, since we had already planned on stopping, and knew where we wanted to spend the night, an angel to read our guidebook, ask the directions for which we were too tired to think up the Spanish, and walk with us until we were in the right quarter.

We met angels.


This is what I have learned about angels, and about their habit of carrying umbrellas:

They are, as is generally rumoured, messengers and guardians (sometimes this is the same thing, if the message is what keeps you safe).

They are quite obviously distinct from you, and your needs are different from theirs. (Even in everyday life I find using an umbrella irritating beyond belief, and it would be an impossible encumbrance for a walking pilgrim; but an angel might well use one, and so might any other normal person on the street.)

They provide you with what you need (and it is not something that they lose by sharing it with you).

They do not neglect their own needs in caring for others (and this, more than anything, is where I am still learning from them).
sashajwolf: Stone carving of scallop shell on background of a tree (shell on tree)
[personal profile] sashajwolf
This looks useful for anyone trying to learn a bit of Spanish before their Camino: a Canadian Spanish course based around the Camino Frances. All the grammar is explained through Spanish, so previous experience of Romance languages and/or grammatical terms would probably help, but in the first lesson, the explanation of the difference between ser and estar is probably the best I've encountered.
el_staplador: (Default)
[personal profile] el_staplador
Ultreia and buen camino to all Santiago pilgrims!
el_staplador: (Default)
[personal profile] el_staplador
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.

Picture under cut )

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.

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