A Secular Pilgrim: Discussing the Efficacy of Pain and Suffering in Endurance Walking.
This Audio Paper was mainly recorded on the North Pilgrim’s Way in North Wales, and The Two Saints Way between Cheshire and Lichfield in England. I walked initially with with Father Robert Icke, a friend and Anglican Priest and my other friend, Dr Kris Darby, who has also been interested in the performative act of walking for a number of years. This discussion builds on my newly published chapter exploring the efficacy of pain and suffering in pilgrimage, in addition to the mind/body experience (published in ‘The Performances of Sacred Places: Crossing, Breathing, Resisting’, Silvia Battista (Ed.), Intellect).
My emerging argument is for the processual importance of the route itself rather than the final fixed venue and therefore for the increasing relevance of the experience of pilgrimage in a secular context. For this paper I have walked an ancient route over 160km, discussing the relationship of meditation and repetition en route to the possibly penitential experience of pain and exhaustion. Whilst doing so we discussed the well-trodden path, the impact of nature, the experience of weather and the crucial relationship of these external factors on both the liminoid quest for renewal (or in the Catholic tradition, indulgence) and our sense of mortality in the experience of nature.