Pilgrim

Any long walk undertaken in solitude becomes a pilgrimage, whether or not you intended it to be one.
That which you seek, or do not seek, cannot be named.
Labels are like boxes – they acquire packaging and prejudice, tinsel and hypocrisy,
and immediately sound like self-help columns.
So shush – no names
No gurus or manuals – just go

There will be no ceremony except the sensible packing of jacket, raincoat, hat, mittens, walking pole and food.
No anointing of oil – save careful application of sunscreen.
No hymns or chants are necessary, although you may find yourself whistling old Beatles songs under your breath as you puff along.

And you certainly won’t need holy water because the wild, rain-delivered kind is everywhere
River, tarn, bog, drindle, running clear and cool under the stones wherever you walk.
No incense, unless you count the southerly gusts carrying snow flurries in lilting tumbles.
No miracles can be expected – only rounded rocks like worn bones
or sharp treacherous shards like old swords

Place your feet securely – there is no forgiveness for carelessness.
Wholly arbitrary, this land has no divine commandments
You and the mountain abide only and utterly, by the laws of physics.
There is innocence in this
There is no need to try – in fact it’s probably better not to
what is your aim anyway?
remember – no names
Simply plodding along in a beautiful place for long enough, is sufficient.

Nonetheless softly, like a change in the weather
something like grace steals in, circles,
and settles into nooks and crevices of your soul –
like the delicate blue harebells,
the mountain hebes
Or the ice-white everlasting daisies that nestle in the cracks between boulder and creek

Something – something of quiet – takes root and flowers for a season
Like a snow-laden spur half-lit and numinous through mist
Dimly perceived, like a wild bird that we must only look at sideways
else it will fly off, frightened

Something that is part of you now, even if it fades
as evanescent things do –
and it will leave behind spores and seeds
The same pathways will always be there
like rivers and tarns
ferns and lichens
glowing coral,  red,  amber,  green
Pilgrim, just go

 

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