Monday, July 25, 2011

Pilgrims Again--Barry

Canterbury Cathedral in early evening seen from inside the Close.    Our  room at the Cathedral Lodge has a great view of the Cathedral (and, unfortunately, an uncomfortable bed)

I am writing this from Canterbury, where we are ending our three-day stay visiting the Cathedral and attending services.  It is the last stop in a "pilgrimage" beginning two nights before in Winchester, another major English "cathedral town" southwest of London, followed by travels east through Hampshire, the Surrey Hills, and Kent, stopping at religious sites along the way before arriving here.

The walk to Winchester Cathedral at the start of this pilgrimage

A stop at a 10th century parish church in Shere in the Surrey Hills.    The building contains the remains of an anchoress cell from the 13th century.  (This cell was walled in from the outside and has only an opening inside to view the altar.)

Canterbury Cathedral nave following Eucharist on Sunday.   The Archbishop of Canterbury was present.

Our three-month trip has at times been fairly typical touring and sightseeing and at other times it has been something more--a pilgrimage?   Back in Israel, our course leader Father Andrew (C of E) spoke of the difference between the two types of travel: tourists move through places while pilgrims experience (or at least aspire to experience) the places moving through them.   I think I had heard this distinction before, but it resonated with me during our course and travels in Jerusalem, Israel, and the West Bank.   Even with modern conveniences like air conditioned minibuses to travel in, the Mideast pilgrim experience for me was challenging--long days, tight schedules, on and off the bus a lot, hot weather, plus the tension associated with observing the current situation in Israel and the West Bank.  So I'm not sure how often I experienced places as a pilgrim despite wanting to.

Bulmer Farm, where we stayed in Holmbury St Mary

England--a place we've been fortunate to visit a number of times--feels almost like home and so this short reprise or echo of our Israel travels is much more comfortable for us.  The only major difficulty has been finding some of the sites on our way to Canterbury--in some cases the directions we had were poor for navigating the roads on the southern fringes of the London metro area.  So we were reversing course a lot as we made our way east.   But the beautiful places we visited were worth it.

The second night we stayed in a B&B and horse farm in Holmbury St Mary in the Surrey Hills.   Of all the places in our travels, this one reminded me the most of Redding, with its hilly and leafy landscape and narrow, winding roads.   It made me yearn for home.   (I should point out however that it's been a pleasant 30 degrees F cooler here, so I'll be content to yearn for a short while longer.)

Chartwell, the Churchill's country home in Kent

We also stopped enroute at Chartwell, the longtime country residence of Winston Churchill that is a beautifully maintained National Trust historic site in the hills of Kent.  In considering the life of this great man, one might also view Chartwell as a secular pilgrimage site, and indeed I sensed a degree of reverence in my fellow visitors as we moved about the rooms and exhibits.   It appeared that many of these pilgrims could personally recall Churchill's time leading and serving the British nation.

Our journey now begins to wind down as we think more and more about returning to the US and Redding.   We are starting finally to do some "lasts" of this trip, such as last laundry run here in Canterbury today, while tomorrow will begin our last leg in Scotland as we fly into Edinburgh and pick up the last of our rental cars (we've rented ten in all).  Oh, and a final pilgrimage--this time to Iona in the Western Isles on Thursday.

Yet another self-photo, this time in front of the Cliffs of Dover not far from Canterbury. Emily and Chloe were with us at this location 13 years ago.

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