No pilgrimage is complete without a return. I’ve been home for over a week now, and I’m still searching for what to say about the process of coming home. It felt abrupt, I was ready, I miss my companions…. but how do you go about weaving that into a blog post that will tie a nice bow around the experience of walking from Paris to Chartres?
I am enough of a Hero’s Journey scholar to believe that we have a responsibility to return home with a boon, something that will inform our future lives and somehow bless our community. We don’t know ahead of time what we’ll bring home with us or how a deep dive into our soul will play out once we return to our “real” lives – and frankly, it’s too soon for me to know any of that. And yet, there are clues.
I want to go back. This is important – I was scared about even attempting to walk so far so fast, and to do it in a group where my shortcomings might impact others. I suffered a serious knee injury two years ago which triggered an almighty flare-up of arthritis and some related complications; there was a time when I didn’t think I’d walk without crutches again, and I certainly didn’t know if I had another camino in my future. As I work for the Confraternity of St James (CSJ) in London and spend much of my time encouraging and supporting pilgrims, this felt significant. In fact, I had been feeling like a fraud. In the eleven days I was in France, however, I clocked up 85 miles of walking, according to my trusty Apple Watch. That wasn’t straight line walking, but a total. A WHOPPING total! I came home feeling energized and strong, eager to do it all over again. I feel alive! This is a glimpse of the old lady I want to become.
Returning to the cathedral at Chartres was incredible. I’ve been there so many times, and I know it so well, but every visit is a new experience. I haven’t walked many labyrinths since the beginning of the pandemic, and there I was on the labyrinth at Chartres with only a handful of others, a rare privilege. When I got to the centre in the quiet and darkened cathedral, I heard what I need to do. I don’t need to ask anymore, I need to act. It’s time to write.
I’m not going to say any more than that right now. I’m still teasing apart the threads of what wants to be written through me. I think there will be surprises ahead!
For one thing, I loved my return to blogging. I am so grateful for every one of you who accompanied me on this journey and I am reminded of what a joy it is to put my thoughts into words. I want to be careful, though, to keep a balance so that I don’t burn out before tackling what feels like my life work. I think I’m going to be returning to my original blog-website, Ariadne’s Thread – but don’t head there quite yet as I still have to figure out how to work the mechanics of combining two sites. Watch this space for an announcement later this year – and in the meantime, I’m back!