Day 13 of Walking the Pilgrims’ Way – how very strange. How blessed to have made it this far. All those months of preparation, training, looking at the maps, walks with friends, booking the package and each day of nearly the last two weeks looking at the map of the day ahead and then just putting one foot in front of the other. The day was long but as each day has been rewarding. The North Downs Way and Pilgrims’ Way mostly run together for this walk. I left Lenham very early in the morning, from the inn, in which apparently Queen Anne once stayed. I passed the Lenham Cross cut into the turf, commemorating those who fell in the two World Wars.
I also passed a large unusual snail (I had read about some in the locality and remember posing a question to Canon Clare on “Ramblings” about them.) I also passed a man with gun, but I didn’t ask questions or take photos!
This pilgrimage has been for me a form of escape. I have not been completely cut off from friends and family and the modern world but I have certainly moved to a state where I am living much more simply. I know (what I had always suspected) that I really do not need many material things. I walked along taking in the scenery, hearing the birdsong, relishing every moment that I have left walking. I passed above the village of Charing fairly early and took a detour down to see the remains of another Bishops Palace.
During the pilgrimage I have felt spiritually close to nature, God and the Universe. I now feel near to Canterbury -reminders of pilgrimage were coming thick and fast.
I still have 14 more miles left to walk tomorrow and more to experience and explore. Elliott (who was mentioned in connection with the Millenium Stones right back on day seven said in “Little Gidding”:
“We shall not cease from exploration; And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started; And know the place for the first time; Through the unknown remembered gate; When the last of earth left to discover is that which was the beginning. At the source of the longest river the voice of the hidden waterfall and the children of the apple-tree; Not known, because not looked for but heard, half-heard, in the stillness between the waves of the sea”.
My main memory of the landscape of the Pilgrims’ Way will be miles of quiet, tree-lined lanes as the one below.
The miles today were long and went through few villages. I passed few people. It was just me and nature. The ruins of St Mary’s Church in Eastwell were just off the track close by Eastwell Park’s lake.
I recalled H’s comment about “nature’s avenues” as I walked through one planted by man. Also today for the first time since entering Kent, I finally found an apple orchard.
I have walked to give gratitude, expressed gratitude, meditated on gratitude. I love this quote from Johananes A Gaertner – “To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enable gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch heaven”.
I have mentioned Bunyan in an earlier post and laying down of one’s burdens. I was reminded of that again today when I made friends with the ultimate beast of burden.
Somewhere along the way I also met a local vicar, who is “trudging the same road” as myself. As he said “You would think that there is some kind of Higher Power behind all this, wouldn’t you?”
After crossing the Great Stour I arrived gratefully at Wye. Hopefully to rest well for the long day ahead tomorrow
So far as it is possible to plan anything I will not be posting tomorrow night, save a quick word to say I am at Canterbury Cathedral. I will wish to spend the evening quietly with T. I am not sure whether I will make Evensong because on a Sunday it is at 3.15 not 5.30 and I do not wish to rush my last day. I will take my time with the walk and no doubt will arrive when I am meant to. I will, however, go to morning prayer on Monday – exactly in the same way in which I did two weeks ago in Winchester Cathedral. I will post in a few days time about my journey on day 14 but I am aware that my journey is not over. As Canon Clare said on the “Ramblings” programme on Radio 4 – the end of a pilgrimage is just the beginning……………………
Tonight one of my favourite hymns.
For a full index of my posts about my Gratitude Walk along the Pilgrims’ Way from Winchester to Canterbury please click here.
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