Number of kilometres today: 23.45
Number of steps today: 33,222
Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 121.93
Total steps sine Canterbury: 173,455
Number of times lost (cumulative): 0.5
Number of dogs fended off: 0 (lucky they were all behind fences today)
Today I found my own way between Licques and Wisques. It meant I spent the day walking on country roads although I inadvertently picked up the main trail at the end. The roads weren't busy but they were narrow and there was very little shoulder to walk on. I was always listening for cars so I could step off the road and onto the shoulder when I needed to, especially when traffic was coming in both directions at the same time. I much prefer to be away from the roads and traffic altogether but it was nice to walk through these quiet, little towns so pretty with their colourful gardens filled with flowering geraniums, marigolds, pansies and petunias.
This morning I was greeted with sunshine but as time went by the clouds gathered and at 1.30pm it started to rain. God must have been looking out for me because I felt the first drop of rain just as I approached a bus shelter at Boisdinghem where I decided was my half way point for my lunch stop. A pilgrim must walk on whether is rain, hail or shine, so out came the Kermit Cloak, my bright green nylon poncho that covers me and my backpack and I proceeded to walk through the rain for the next two hours.
Today, it didn't matter that is was raining or that my blistered toe is begging me to stop walking more often or that my hips and knees are silently groaning their own aches and pains. Today, I felt so completely and utterly happy. In her poem, Pilgrims Blessing, Macrina Widerkehr writes, "May the weather that's important be the weather of your heart." This line so strongly resonated with me when I first heart the poem at Canterbury Cathedral, and today I felt the meaning of this line.
Tonight, I am tired and sore but blessedly content. I am staying at Abbaye Notre Dame. I hadn't planned to stay here. My first choice was a small hotel with a restaurant just around the corner. Wisques is very small, no supermarket or boulangerie or bar, so I thought the hotel would be my best option with the possibility of a room and half board but it turned out to be significantly more expensive than the guide book indicated at a level I was not prepared to pay. Instead, I walked back to Abbaye Notre Dame just around the corner.
When I entered the abbey, vepres (evening song) was in progress and the abbey was filled with the sweet voices of the nuns singing their prayers. I was about to leave when the service ended and out walked a nun with two French ladies who started to speak to me...in French. I managed to tell them, in badly pronounced French, that I am a pilgrim on my way to Rome and looking for a room for the night. The nun took me to the abbey office so she could speak to her superior and now here I am in my own room in their l'lhotelier. They have fed me dinner, vegetable soup, bread, rice, a fried egg, baked endives and an apple compote for dessert, a meal I shared with a French girl and a couple from Beligum. Later, I drank hot sweet tea looking out through the arched window of the kitchen into the tree-filled garden as I listened to the bells chime their calls for evening prayer ceremonies.
I've said this many times over the last couple of years but tonight I really feel it's truth; we don't always end up where we think we are going but we end up exactly where we should be.