Husband, father, runner, skier, traveller, walker, dog and cat lover
Heading for Lourdes
The usual apprehensions are floating to the surface as I prepare for my third Lourdes pilgrimage, although the first was so long ago as to hardly count, and so much has changed since 1972.
I have been more involved in the preparation this year, partly through having volunteered to arrange a mini-bus to get pilgrims local to Ampleforth to Stagnated Airport and partly through having been asked to be a Responsable, one of six, which has involved additional preparation.
What’s to be apprehensive about? Again, it is that rapid ejection from my comfort zone into a world so totally different from day-to-day living as to be significantly challenging. That’s not something I fear; indeed, its exactly what I have been trying to achieve in my professional life, encouraging clients to travel into new lives, to die to their usual life and be reborn into a new life, to become the person they essentially are, not the person they usually are.
Last year was very much a learning and familiarisation week. This year I arrive in Lourdes knowing the ropes, more or less, and should be able to contribute more fully and deeply than last year. I have more responsibilities and will be in a better position to help old hands and first timers.
I recently re-read my journal from last year’s pilgrimage and was shocked to recall how constantly on-the-go we were. No wonder it took a week to recover. I suppose I find this a bit of a concern this year given I am unfit and still in some pain and lacking full mobility from my broken arm which still has not healed fully. Anyway, I’ve packed lots of pain killers, will try and avoid pulling voitures up steep hills and certainly don’t intend to pull back in any way unless it becomes too much.
The theme this year is ‘The Joy of Mission’; interesting that it once again reflects a secular theme used in the financial life planning process (last year’s theme was ‘conversion’ or transformation.
I made many new acquaintances last year; living and working with over 300 people means, sadly, one only gets to know a few very well, and those tend to be the people I’ve had contact with since Lourdes last year. This week will be an opportunity to re-connect and extend those friendships, which I look forward to with keen anticipation. My roving responsibilities as a Responsable this year will also give me more scope to get to know people.
I remain a little unclear as to precisely my duties as a Responsable. In my mind I have written my own job description, namely to ensure those AP’s in my wards are content in mind, body and spirit at all times, and to use the role as an opportunity to use my deep, empathic listening skills, to be truly compassionate and to be a good organiser and co-ordinator. We’ll see how it goes.
So, the forecast for Lourdes is hot, with some rain towards the end of the week. Let the pilgrimage begin.