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Thanks from a pleasantly surprised pilgrim

by
04 September 2015

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From Mr Peter Strevens

Sir, — My wife, Janet, and I have just returned from walking 105 miles of the North Downs/Pilgrims’ Way from Guildford to Canterbury.

We have completed other long-distance walks, but this one was intended to be more of a pilgrimage. We were able to appreciate the beautiful wooded countryside and agricultural land; we prayed, sang, talked through some family matters, and just had time and space to think, away from computers and telephones. We went into every church we found open, and prayed for the priest and people of each parish. It was a great walk.

Our guidebook indicated that unless we were attending a service, we would have to pay to get in to the cathedral. I took exception to this, and spent the last few miles chuntering to myself about having to pay to get into “my church”, and getting cross at the prospect, and thinking there ought to be some sort of pass for church members.

When we arrived at the west gate of the Close, there was a long queue of visitors, waiting to pay their entry fees. I found a steward and asked whether there was somewhere we could sit and pray without going in. The lady asked “Are you pilgrims?” When we said “Yes,” we were ushered through the gate and taken round to the Welcome Centre, where we received our stamped pilgrim bookmarks, and were invited to go into the cathedral free of charge.

It was quite emotional, entering the building in our boots and carrying our rucksacks after our long walk. We were warmly greeted by the chaplain for the day, who chatted and prayed for us; and then we prayed at the Martyrdom. After we looked around, we were able to go back later to attend evensong.

So, a thank-you to Canterbury Cathedral for their welcome, and for a wonderful end to our pilgrimage.

 

PETER STREVENS
9 Hither Bush, Lyde
Hereford HR4 8EF

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