Monday, 19 August 2013

Perspectives and chance encounters

Each year that I was at St Edwards  I accompanied the members of the art department on a residential art workshop to the Forest of Dean . Over 4 days the art students were opened up to a wide variety of techniques. One which fascinated me involved them creating a tiny square in a woodland setting and making the detail the centre piece of their painting. It was an object lesson in perspective.  In many ways a pilgrimage is a similar object lesson.  Your perspective is often focused on the next half kilometre. As a result the attention to detail is remarkable-changes in wind direction, presence or absence of cloud etc . Today I was looking at a bee and a butterfly together on the same beautiful flower.
I am reminded of the story of how one of his confreres at Stonyhurst once found Gerard Manley Hopkins observing individual snowflakes with a magnifying glass.

'Though mastering me God, giver of breath and bread. World's strength, sway of the sea, Lord of living and dead. Thou hast bound bones and veins in me, fashioned me flesh and after it almost unmade what with dread thou doing. And dost thou touch me afresh over again I feel thy finger and find thee. '

Feeling the finger of God is at the heart of the pilgrimage experience. For me this gives rise to wonder and gratitude. Wonder at the glory of creation, gratitude that I am part of it. Those who know me well would be amazed at my dawdling pace. 'Tread softly and tread carefully' is my mantra. Today, like yesterday, the sides of the path abounded in wild raspberries-Delicious!  The abundance of God made freely available!
Towards one o'clock, in the heat of the afternoon I came to a crossroads. There was a café with three or four tables. Unhitching my rucksack which I have now christened Oscar I went inside to find the owner- a lady of a certain age- eating her lunch. I asked for a sandwich and was told that there was only cheese so I ordered that and a coke. At the next table three youngsters were speaking in English. I asked them where they came from and the girl answered Spain! I recognised them from the Pilgrims Mass in Le Puy on 14th. Since the other two in the group did not speak Spanish we reverted to English . I asked them why they were going to Santiago and then remembered that the girl had told the Bishop that she is Galician and was walking home! Matt, her husband, is from Peterborough and I commented on the connection with the Camino since Catherine of Aragon is buried in Peterborough Cathedral.
I noticed another raptor and they said that it is a Red Kite . After lunch we walked together as the path entered the Aubrac. I noticed that there were ancient standing stones at the edge of our route . It was a cloudless afternoon but the heat was tempered by the fact that the Aubrac plateau is around 1000-1200metres above sea level.

1 comment:

  1. Basil I am green with envy! I am musing on things like broken air conditioners and book orders that have not arrived!!! Love the name for your rucksack.