Suffolk, England, 23 December 2016
As I write, Storm Barbara is hammering into the British Isles and here, at 3.30pm, the light has already nearly gone. Cold, damp and darkness all play their part in the fog of my post-pilgrimage gloom. Those who walk the pilgrim paths will know the addictiveness of the adventure: the intensity, the freedom to be one’s true self, the camaraderie, the depth of new experiences and relationships, the excitement of each new day. And so, in midwinter, our thoughts inevitably wing backwards with yearning, and then start seeking new challenges.
The current challenge for me, of course, is to keep myself in the pilgrim mindset: to maintain the joy, the trust in the goodness of others, and – in this dreariness of the December quotidian – to be that person whose only baggage was a too-heavy rucksack. The national and international news is so unremittingly dreadful that these tasks present a far harder uphill struggle than the Great St Bernard Pass or the accursed hill of Radicofani.
All that was a rambling and rather downbeat preamble to wishing all my friends, readers, and members of the Via Francigena group on Facebook a very happy Christmas and peaceful new year, full of adventures and joy.
• To Via Francigena addicts and members of the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome I just want to add that I am honoured to have been invited to speak to the Confraternity’s AGM in London on 11 March. The subject will be “The Challenges of the Via Francigena (and how I overcame them)” – some hollow laughter there… Because I may meet people there who don’t know about this blog, I am keeping my Just Giving pages open till the end of March should anyone feel moved by granny’s 2000km to contribute to Refugee Action and/or to Shelter:
www.justgiving.com/Mary-Kirk2  (Refugee Action)
www.justgiving.com/Mary-Kirk3  (Shelter)