Sunday, April 16, 2017
I arrived easily into Nagasaki City yesterday on a bright spring afternoon. Bustling with tourists, a cruise ship in the harbor, everybody's excited about the blossoming cherry trees. (I'm trying to see it, but - big whoop, a few thousand cherry trees... yawn.) A bit sunburned now and in short sleeves again after the long winter's walk, I'm happy to have completed the pilgrimage. An interesting pilgrimage, though nothing particularly dangerous - no major earthquakes or tsunamis, a couple of snowstorms, but no blizzards... no men with guns, forgiving terrain - the worst of the worse was a small spider bit that left puffiness - not even proper swelling, and then forgotten the next day... so, not boring, but a very tame pilgrimage.
Statistically: 166 days; 161 walking days. 139 nights hosted by some sort of Catholic community (parishes, monasteries, convents, missions, families of parishes) which is remarkable in a country with less than one half of one percent of the population being Catholic. Eight nights hosted by Buddhist temples - all very impressed that I'm actually walking and actually mendicant. In total, 5,607 kilometers (3,484 miles) for a pilgrim-life total (10 years) of 51,125 kilometers (31,768 miles). As a bonus pilgrimage within a pilgrimage, I visited 22 of the 52 historic churches on the Goto Islands, which would be a lovely one to complete in a leisurely week or two on foot or easy week on bicycle any time of year.
While Japanese cuisine is not my favorite - a devotee to the sud-France palette of flavors - I failed to drop the standard annual bulk I work hard to gain in late summer. So, I've finished this long winter's walk a bit ragged and tattered, but far from emaciated. I'm not sure if it's good or bad, but it reflects the society I keep, I suppose. Japan is a land of abundance. I sat on many a floor eating raw fish with little sticks - 'just like our ancestors' and truly enjoyed the company of delightful and gracious strangers.
Computers have been difficult to find, and access to emails particularly an obstacle on this pilgrimage - I did try to update the blog regularly, it just didn't work. I'll do better (I hope) on next winter's pilgrimage. Next winter: dedicated to St Martin of Tours (for non-Catholics; beefy dude on a horse with a red cape and short kilt who did his thing in 4th century Europe). As he had been a soldier along the Roman frontier, I plan to walk the length of the Danube River in Romania to its source in Germany, then continue to where he left his mark in cities of France: final destination - his tomb in Tours, for Easter. Could be a bit of April in Paris next year.
Meanwhile, I continue to help other pilgrims in the 'off season' beginning next week with a 500 kilometer trek along the Missouri River in the central part of the US in dedication to St Rose Philippine Duchesne, a feisty educator who opened the first school west of the Mississippi River nearly 200 years ago. Stay tuned.
Thanks for your interest.