Today I continued walking and met a friend (or two) – thank you Gary and Daniel, cyclists from Rainham (?), for taking the photo. I journeyed from Thurnham to Lenham. The way took me along the usual footpaths, holloways and trackways. Initially I climbed up to the ruins of the twelfth century Thurnham Castle.
This scenery, terrain and the trackways are becoming familiar now; the views were spectacular and there was that slight nip in the early morning air that always makes me think of a fresh, clear, unblemished day.
The way passed through fields where the last of the wild marjoram and other wild flowers were still just in bloom.
I had been warned today about the steps – and there were lots of them. It was wonderful though, whilst climbing some steps through a wooded area I received a phone call from a lady I speak to regularly and I was thinking generally about “steps” and moving through and on with life and at the top I emerged to the most beautiful sunshine and glorious view.
Pilgrimage brings together the body and the soul. The physical act of walking and the discomforts of the earthly body counterbalance with the quietening of the mind and the inner journey. I have a couple of sore toes now – not blisters, corns, I think – but they are well wrapped up in various assortments of micropore and padding and I seem to be surviving. The more I walk the more my mind chatter stops and I find myself living in the moment. Serenity is mine from simply following the path. I have stopped looking at the clock, following an “ETA”, I am just going with the flow.
I met a lady from Israel, Sarah; she was sitting on a log eating her sandwiches and she is walking around the country in stages. I agreed with her when she said that walking was really the best way to get to know a country. Like myself – she was walking alone. I posted about “fear” (click here) before the walk. I am being carried – of that I have no doubt. I am surrounded by the prayers of others and carried through my own prayer. Dorothy Thompson said “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live in every experience, painful or joyous, to live in gratitude for every moment, to live abundantly”.
Just after passing a home made “Pilgrims Way” sign I quite quickly reached Hollingbourne. I had the time to have a wander around here and take a “selfie” in the reflection on the Church door.
All Saints Church, Hollingbourne is another Church that particularly welcomes pilgrims.
I have now been walking for twelve days and at sometime during the course of the day, or maybe yesterday, something changed. I feel at a threshold, having lost my former identity and not yet having moved to a new one. My old life seems a world away. Fears, anger and resentments gone. It all sounds rather grand and I can’t indulge in complicated theories, but I certainly feel different………….. and rather nice! Physically I am now becoming very tired but spiritually I feel open and refreshed. Walking every day is like a repetitive prayer and I plod on. I seem to be experiencing incidences of deja vu quite a bit – something that hasn’t happened to me in a long while. Nothing major or scary but I just keep getting the feeling that I have been here before and I know what will happen next.
I had heard about the bench just outside Harrietsham and I duly took advantage of it for a rest. The words say “Pilgrim bound with staff and faith, rest thy bones”.
I am so aware now that I am getting closer and closer to Canterbury. Mentions of “pilgrims” came at several places along the way.
After the bench it was only a few miles walking in glorious weather with signs of Autumn all around to reach Lenham, where I was staying for the night. I sang in joy for the last few miles (no-one was around!) – a selection from among others “We plough the fields and scatter”, “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic”, “Don’t sit under the Apple Tree”, “It’s in his kiss” – don’t ask me to justify the selection! I was just singing in glorious gratitude.
Again, I arrived early enough in Lenham to have time to have a good look around. Looks a lovely village – a bakers, greengrocers, tea rooms, fish and chip shop, library – all rather lovely. An easy and delightful day’s walking, giving me some strength to save for the last two days. Off to the chippie now – haven’t passed one of those since day 1 in Alresford (Helen!)
“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy” – Rabbi Abraham Hendel
I will sign off tonight with another musician that T and I have seen live many times. She tells the story of how she once lived with someone who used the phrase “Keep it Simple” and was trying to live his life in that way – so she wrote this song. I think that the last two days may be a long trek – but one step at a time I will keep it simple. I will get there when I am meant to.
Here is a full index of my post of my Gratitude Walk along the Pilgrims’ Way from Winchester to Canterbury
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