Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday

We're soaking in the atmosphere of Canterbury and the surrounding area, a region that is incredibly rich with history that extends even before the introduction of Christianity here during the Roman era.  We boarded a bus this morning after breakfast and headed about 20 miles out of town to Aylesford priory, a Roman Catholic Carmelite community that is extremely hospitable to visitors and tourists. One of the friars gave us a brief historical overview, and took us on a tour of the lovely grounds and its three chapels. I was particularly entranced by St. Joseph's Chapel, as St. Joseph is the patron saint of my episcopate (I was ordained on St. Joseph's day in 2011). We then had an hour or so to luxuriate in the peace of the place before being served a hearty lunch.


A short bus ride later and we were at an entry point of a walking path that stretches all the way from London to Canterbury. This is the route walked by pilgrims to Canterbury in the middle ages, and possibly even by pilgrims to Stonehenge in the late Neolithic era. Our goal was to make it to Charing, approximately a 6 mile journey. The path took us through wooded areas, and between fields of wheat and rye and beans. For most of the way, there was a gorgeous vista of a valley to the south of us stretching to a range of hills beyond it. At times the way was rough and we had to be careful where we stepped. By the end, we were all well worn out (it took us more than 3 1/2 hours, rather longer than we had anticipated) but now more concretely aware of what ancient pilgrims endured in order to reach their goal.


We eagerly greeted our bus and it's driver, who drove us all the way into the center of Canterbury rather than take us back to our hotel so that we could eat dinner promptly. It was a full day, and I expect we will all sleep very well tonight.

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