Leeds Pilgrimage started in Horsforth, on what turned out to be one of the last days of summer, and paused at Golden Acre Park at a comfortable pub in the countryside. We walked through suburbs and green fields, meeting working people and dog walkers. A student promoter offered us all free pizza tokens. A tree surgeon offered us his card. Our guide offered chocolate as we pondered the motivation for anyone to go on pilgrimage.
“You have to get into the rhythm of walking. Then you notice things. A group becomes more observant, and you SEE much more than if you were walking alone.”
What makes a pilgrimage?
-The telling of moral tales? Well, we did tell stories: we heard of Saint Kevin of Glendalough and his blackbird; of unexpected gifts; of the long train tunnel under Bramhope; of the birth of a grandson. Surprises made us guess at a story: why a lonely mussel shell on a landlocked pathway through a field? Why a stone lion in the middle of a wood? What if I were one inch tall and were to climb through those sculptural funghi?
-Walking with reflective intent? If you take the Church Institute as the centre of the city, and draw lines out to both the beginning and end of this, our first walk, you draw the first of our wedges of Leeds. We reflected on all our colleges and universities contained in this wedge. We thought about transport links, as planes rose above us, and trains rumbled under out feet. We sang a song of thanksgiving.
-Visiting sacred sites? Well, we began at a chapel in Trinity University. But we did feel that our feet were “on holy ground” in many and various human made and natural places, as well as in the interactions between us. Perhaps this pilgrimage is going to be not so much to “sacred sites” as towards a fuller experience of “sacred sights” all around our city.
Join us on the next “wedges” of our year-long pilgrimage round the Leeds Country Way, on October 19th and November 23rd.