|Only photo on internet illustrating concept.|
Can you believe it? I train so much for the pilgrimage that I use up a whole pack of plasters (band-aids) and a whole pack of blister plasters (special blister band-aids), and two days before the pilgrimage begins, I catch a lousy cold.
Now even science has proved that long-distance prayers relieve illness, so please, dear readers, take a moment to pray that my cold disappears by tomorrow's dawn. Normally colds linger for a week, but I really object to having to walk 25 miles (40 km) tomorrow (and then sleep outdoors) with a cold. The cold must go. Death to the cold.
In contemplating the graces of this pilgrimage, I have remained unconvinced that deliberately seeking physical suffering is spiritually helpful. Fasting is one thing; an empty tum for a few hours is really no big deal. A few aches and pains from a relatively easy walk to a pilgrimage site are likewise no big deal. However, courting exhaustion, dehydration and pneumonia is something else entirely. I have been reading up on long-distance hiking, and not to put too fine a point on it, but it is a bad idea to walk more than 10 miles (16 km) a day without training and preparation. Chucking a few plasters in a knapsack is not enough. I am almost too afraid to look up the advice about hiking long-distance with a cold.
I do not want to dwell on this, to tell you the truth. However, I am haunted by the story of a pal who told me that when she went on the Chartres Pilgrimage she "almost died." Now, she was a reasonably fit woman in her late twenties/early thirties at the time, and I can't remember what it was that was so nearly fatal, but apparently she had to be dragged and/or carried by a male friend for some endless distance. (Oh Lord--I am adding to the Gloomy Tales of Chartres oeuvre.) She is a patient, accepting soul, so she was probably just grateful to her male friend, but if it were me I would have almost died of shame. I was a Girl Guide dammit! What's more, I sparred once or twice with Jessica Rakoczy (who, admittedly, could have killed me, but that's not the point).
You know, it's just a little cold: no coughing, no sore throat, just a runny nose and some sneezing. (Possibly my mother has started praying already.) Today I will drink litres and litres of fluid, eat low-sugar chocolate cake (see The Low-Sugar Cookbook) and think happy thoughts. I will imagine all my lovely readers praying devoutly for the end of my cold.
I am looking forward to returning on Tuesday and firing up the computer to tell you that the Chartres Pilgrimage was simply amazing and everyone exaggerates the terrible pain, exhaustion, etc.