Receiving a Private Blessing for Our Pilgrimage, at the Canterbury Cathedral
We asked our B&B guesthouse to serve us breakfast early, since we wanted to see more of the town of Canterbury before the Sunday service at the church.
The full English breakfast that I saw on the plates of the other guests included eggs, sausages, canned, unappetizing baked beans and toast with a commercially packaged marmalade.
We asked for whole wheat toast and one fried egg with nothing else.
The egg was cooked in a microwave, and was so rubbery I could not eat it.
The town has many attractive breakfast places, so we decided that tomorrow, after we check out and begin walking, we will eat something better in town.
Canterbury was quiet as we walked down the main street in the morning.
The night before, we had seen so many people drinking, loud or drunk, that a quiet morning and empty streets meant that everyone was sleeping off their hangovers.
At the gate to the Cathedral, we were escorted to the welcome center.
As pilgrims, we needed our pilgrimage passports stamped before attending the Sunday service.
We had also scheduled a private blessing for our journey.
Before the service started, we toured the ancient cathedral with its beautiful stone pillars, arches and elaborate stained glass windows.
The service was truly beautiful, with songs and prayers, a short sermon and even a personal welcome to Jules and I.
The Archdeacon of Canterbury, the venerable Jo Kelly-Moore (a lively woman with great energies and positive life-force), had welcomed everyone and personally mentioned myself and Jules, as pilgrims who are setting off to walk the Via Francigena.
After the service, Jo came to pray with us for a safe journey.
It was very moving.
The three of us approached the altar and closed our eyes.
Jo asked God to watch over us, to walk in front of us to show us the way, walk beside us so we shall encounter only the Divine in all we meet, walk above us to inspire us, and walk behind us to protect us.
Later I was happy to find out that Jo had been a solicitor in Auckland, NZ and in London, before turning to the ministry.
She was installed as the Archdeacon of Canterbury in January 2017.
Jo had been the Dean of the Anglican Church in Auckland, New Zealand, since August 2010.
During that time she led a major project to complete and consecrate the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell, Auckland.
After the lovely service and warm blessing, we left the cathedral and went to see the remains of the Saint Augustine Abbey and the old Saint Martin’s church.
These three sites are responsible for the UNESCO World Heritage status of Canterbury.
I really enjoyed seeing the ancient circular shapes of the crosses, seen in the Cathedral and in the old burial ground of St. Martin’s Church, the oldest church in the English speaking world.
Unlike the new cross that is commonly used these days, which is just an upright X sign, these old crosses encircle the cross with a circle, reminding us all that life is ETERNAL and EVERLASTING, an eternal cycle of life.
By late afternoon the sky had turned dark and the weather had gotten much colder.
We had a meal at a local Moroccan restaurant.
We ate a veg couscous and a veg tajine.
We also bought a small essential oil room deodorizing spray, just in case we have to stay along the way in other musty guesthouses.
While Jules got a haircut and a shave at one of the many barber shops in town, I sat in a cafe to gather my notes.
I am a bit nervous about walking in the cold rain, but with God above us as Jo asked Him to be, we shall have nothing to worry about….
With Love and Light,