Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Thoughts on pilgrimage

A walk uphill through crowds from the convent to Damascus Gate.
Stop at my now favourite cafe en route. They are putting up even more Christmas decorations.

A shared taxi to the airport. Meet a party of 77 pilgrims from the Catholic Diocese of Westminster including someone who had once been interested in volunteering at Notre Dame Refugee Centre - with whom I have exchanged emails. What a coincidence. He is now working as Communications Officer for the Diocese. He says that the tour has been good - visiting one sacred site after another. It has been exhausting.

This is exactly what I didn't want to do. Ironically the journey was the important thing: making the effort to get here; working it out; carrying on, even though I really at one stage thought what on earth am I doing - even as I sat on the plane after we arrived at Ben Gurion in Tel Aviv, waiting for everyone to file off.

All that quickly disappeared - probably as I got out of the Nesser taxi at Damascus Gate and the driver shook my hand and said 'Welcome to Israel'. Then walking to Damascus Gate and up to the hotel - the light - the fruit - the smells - the excitement.

Have had few insights into the life of the soul: but interesting thoughts about seeing as praying and what faith means and might mean.

Jerusalem is probably about what faith means - it seems to be as I write at the airport.

Food is very expensive at the airport but am starving. A last Palestinian beer and - ridiculously - a slice of pizza.

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy