The Pilgrimage That Won’t Be

Pilgrims walking the causeway to Holy Island

We didn’t have much in the way of holiday last year. After months of health problems resulting from the complications that followed my prostatectomy (I won’t go into them here – you can Read All About Them in previous blog posts) I was still waiting for a hernia repair, so we were reluctant to book time away. Afraid, too, that health insurance for overseas travel would be prohibitively expensive. The one high point was a week in Sherwood Forest in August with all the family, to celebrate my 70th birthday. There were 18 of us in all, three generations of the Price tribe, making it one of the best holidays ever.

So as 2020 arrived, we felt ready to book some quality time away from home. For Alison’s 70th in January we went to the seaside and stayed for four nights in the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Brighton is much nicer out of the summer season, without the holidaying crowds.

Then we began to look ahead and make plans for Easter and springtime. Our thoughts turned to holy places and experiences. For several years we have been unable to keep Holy Week the way we would like, so the first plan was to stay at Mirfield to share in Holy Week with the Community of the Resurrection. Then we booked two places on a retreat on Holy Island in May, and planned to make a slow progress northwards in the week before the retreat, visiting on the way some places we’ve never seen, and revisiting others that we know and love. We were confident that this year my health problems were all in the past, and in that confidence booked hotels with the cheaper, non-refundable option. What could possibly go wrong?

If we had paid more attention to the news coming out of China in the first days of the year, we might have had an inkling of what could go wrong. But then, we weren’t the only ones who either didn’t pay attention or had little understanding of what the news might mean. Even Governments – our own, for example – which had been getting advice for years that a global pandemic was probably the greatest threat to national security, did nothing until it was too late, and the pandemic was upon us. We still don’t have a full reckoning of just how bad and how big the cockups by our Government and others have been. Perhaps when, or if, the final death toll is in, there might be some consensus about that, and even some accounting.

In the meantime, there have been Cancellations. Everything, everything has been cancelled. And without refunds. We’re miffed about that, of course; but then again, we reflect that the booking fees we’ve lost may make the difference between solvency and insolvency for those hotels and their employees.

Our northern progress towards Lindisfarne was to begin tomorrow, May 7th. I’m thinking that I still want to make that journey, at least in my imagination. During this lockdown we’ve all been learning about the ways technology can make things virtually possible, when they are not physically possible. So the plan is to begin a daily, or virtually daily, account of our 2020 May pilgrimage.

Want to come with us?

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