Fr Mark shares his experiences of the Diocescan pilgrimage to Santiago.
The old song went ‘One man and his dog went to mow a meadow’ but the new song is ‘One man and his Tedi went to Santiago’. That is where the newly christened Tedi Pererin (Teddy Pilgrim) and I went in the middle of May. We did not go alone but went with the diocese of Llandaff. It was amazing to walk up to our residence and find that we were facing Santiago Cathedral.
The following afternoon after a picnic lunch we set out on our first walk along the Cameno trail from Portugal. One aspect amongst many of Pilgrimage is to walk alongside and it was a delight to walk alongside and talk with three people I had not met before. There is also the times of walking along in silence. (Usually when it was uphill for me!). This does give time for reflection and a conversation with God and self.
Tedi enjoyed meeting Bishop June and, seeing an opportunity to move in the higher echelons of Diocesan life, I was summarily abandoned and he took to her staff like a pro. I hear that he was a great attraction whilst walking with her and upon our return to Santiago he decided to move in permanently. I haven’t had a postcard yet but I’m sure he will be back to visit sometime in 2020. I’m currently looking out for a brother or sister to replace him with.
Being on my own now I met up with one person who I had not seen for 32 years, the Revd Nick Sandford, with whom I used to play squash every week in college. So, pilgrimage enables you to meet new people and renew old friendships.
The local food was excellent and with a group of people including the previous Rector of this parish and the Swedish diocesan link person, Nina, I enjoyed some of the local sea delights as well as more traditional tapas food. Pilgrimage enables you to experience new things at all levels.
We celebrated the eucharist outside, learnt a pilgrim dance and had a banquet in the most historically illustrious and breathtaking surroundings. And again, I met new people and had challenging, interesting conversations.
It is said that the difference between a pilgrim and a tourist is that a tourist passes through a place and that the place passes through a pilgrim. In more ways than I can count Santiago has certainly passed through me. It has taken away some things and has left behind others. A true pilgrimage worthy of the name.
One man – tediless