Grounded

Canterbury Cathedral, September 5 2019
Canterbury Cathedral, September 5 2019

 

15:00, March 30, 2020.

By now, Gail and I would have departed on our flight from Winnipeg to Paris, via Montreal. Tomorrow we would have walked the streets of Paris. The following day would have taken us by train to Laon. And, after a day there, a short train ride would have taken us to nearby Tergnier. 

Just six months ago, on September 26 2019, we had walked to that small city. It was the endpoint of our trek from London to Canterbury (following the Chaucer Way) and from Canterbury to Tergnier on the first leg of our Via Francigena pilgrimage to Rome. Our plans for this spring were to complete another stage of the journey, this time from Tergnier to Besançon—23 walking days and some 550 kilometres later.

As we all now know, an invisible threat has, with devastating fury, reshaped all of our day-to-day lives and, in one tiny corner of the globe—Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada—forced Gail and me to cancel our springtime walk across France.

Today, we will not board that flight. Instead, we will cocoon in our comfortable Wolseley home, barbecue a couple of steaks and open a good bottle of French wine.

And we will contemplate our return to France and the resumption of our two-footed mission to Rome. Soon. This Fall. Maybe. Hopefully.

We raise our glasses in a toast to Hope. 

 

 

Walking to Rome: Via Francigena Day 1

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Our Chaucer Way pilgrimage ended in the nave of Canterbury Cathedral two days ago. Today we are back at the Cathedral, this time just outside the south transept. In front of us is a diminutive stone, no larger than a modest grave marker, with shallow relief carvings telling us this is the Starting Stone for the Via Francigena pilgrimage that will eventually see us at the door of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Continue reading

Walking to Rome: Day Six on the Chaucer Way

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This is the final day of our brief pilgrimage from London to Canterbury. The Chaucer Way has taken us from the most urban of places, through its suburban spread and, from there, through quaint rural villages replete with half-timbered, thatched-roof cottages and flint-walled churches before bursting once more into the cultural and spiritual city of Canterbury. Continue reading

Walking to Rome: Winnipeg

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It starts in Canterbury. Gail and I will leave its cathedral, head south, cross the English Channel, traverse France, climb Switzerland’s Great Saint Bernard Pass, continue south through Italy and finally arrive on the doorstep of the Vatican. Continue reading