There were a lot of things that I had planned to write about last year, so I thought that I would go ahead and write some of them now.
Anybody that has read this blog over the years knows that I have for many years wanted to make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, but I've never been able to and at this point I think it's highly unlikely that I ever will. So, in 2012-13, my husband and I made a little pilgrimage to the three churches that we attend near our house (the closest being 12.5 miles away). We made journey in a lot of little walks of about 2 miles each, and there was a lot of bad weather over the weather, not to mention holidays and indolence, but we finally made it to all three--a total of about 37.5 miles. Not very impressive except for, perhaps, perseverance.
Then last Spring, I learned that these two Dominican Friars were going to be walking from New Orleans to Memphis, and they had invited people to walk with them for part of the way. It was perfect because they are Dominican, and at this point in my life I am surrounded by Dominicans, and not only that, they are friars of the St. Martin de Porres Province. St. Martin de Porres! Patron of the blog! And then, the final goal of the pilgrimage was the National Shrine of St. Martin de Porres which just happens to be in my parish church, St. Peter in Memphis. Also, the penultimate stop was at St. Paul the Apostle, the church where I work. And part of their route (for the most part Highway 51 through Mississippi) was along the road we had walked in our pilgrimage to the churches.
Obviously I could not walk the whole way, and I really can't walk very far at all when the temperature is in the mid-90s, but as soon as they got within about two hours driving time from the house, and I had the day off, I drove down to meet them. In all I walked with them four times for about 2 miles each time. Again, not too impressive, but it was what I could do.
The way I did this was to drive until I found the friars and then turn around and drive back the way I had come for about a mile and a half, and find someplace to park. This isn't always the easiest along Highway 51. Then I would walk with them until I got back to the car and a bit further and then go back to the car and leave. The first night I stayed in a cabin nearby so that I could walk early the next morning before it got too hot.
For the most part, we didn't talk while we walked and I just followed behind. It was interesting to watch the way the friars worked together without any verbal communication. When, for instance, I met them while they had been resting by the side I the road, I watched while they got all their stuff together and helped each other with their backpacks and things without ever speaking. It was like a routine they had worked out.
The first two days were hot, but there were a lot of trees along the way, so we were in the shade most of the time. The third day was really awful. There was no shade at all. I made this picture big so that you could see the train on our right. The whole time we were walking I could hear the metal cars banging and creaking as the metal expanded in the heat.
I was really happy to get back to my truck, but those guys still had about 15 miles to go.
All this walking was through farmland and we only passed a few buidings and didn't see many cars at all. The last day that I walked the friars had spent the night with some parishioners from my former parish in Senatobia, and I met up with them just outside of town, so we were walking on sidewalks on a busy two-lane street, and the friars were being interviewed for a Catholic radio show. This picture was taken during a rest stop at Northwest Mississippi Community College. That's where I called it a day.
The next night they reached St. Paul in the late afternoon where they stayed in the rectory and were met the next morning by a group of Memphians who walked the last lap to St. Peter. These folks had recently been on a fairly long pilgrimage in Italy, so they were accomplished walkers. The building they are standing in front of is the building where I work.
I wish that I could say that I had some great spiritual revelation while I was walking, or that I spent that time deep in prayer. I did say the rosary as I walked along and while I was driving there, too, but for the most part, I was more concerned about just putting one foot in front of the other and trudging along, which, I suppose pretty much describes most of my spiritual life.