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The Pilgrimage Begins: Chartres: Pentecost 2016

Ian and I just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on November 30, 2013.  It has been a beautiful marriage from the start, and God has blessed us with 11 beautiful children, one of whom He took to Himself almost as soon an we knew he existed!

We want to thank God for His goodness and mercy, so we decided that for our 20th anniversary, we will make a pilgrimage. I do not know how I came up with the idea of Chartres, but that is the one we plan to do.  For the next 30 months, until May of 2016, this blog will chronicle our preparations for the pilgrimage, and then I will bring back tales of Chartres, God willing.  I hope that all the details will help someone else who might want to do a pilgrimage, but if not, they will serve as a reminder to me of everything we did to get ready.

Day 1: St. Andrew, pray for us!

St. Andrew’s Day, Saturday, November 30,  2013, we began our physical training: we went for a walk together. Hand-in-hand, like we always do, we walked briskly from our house almost to the corner of Phoebe Grove and Black Forest Road and back home. It took us about half an hour. I wore some shoes that were a little too small for me, but my feet did not suffer too much. Our walk was in the morning after breakfast, and it was cool but not too cold, although I wished I had covered my ears. That afternoon we went to the local runners’ store The Runner’s Roost, and Ian had me fitted for walking shoes for training! The staff there know what they are doing and know all there is to know about what you need on your feet for running and walking. Ian has been going there since he ran cross-country in high school. The man who assisted us said, “The most important things when walking or running are, number one: shoes, and number 2: socks. I can’t tell you which shoe to buy, because it will be as individual as your foot. Each person will need a different shoe for the same race.” He watched me walk in the boots I was wearing, and came back with 3 pairs for me to try. He watched me walk away and back on the track they have built into the floor in the store and told me why this particular shoe would work for me or not. The second pair I tried, I knew was not going to work as I started walking away, and when I came back, before I had said a word, he told me it wouldn’t work, and even repeated to me what I had said to myself. When I settled on a pair of shoes, Ian said, “Happy anniversary! I’ll come get these for you next week.” YAY!! Thank you, Ian!

Day 2: O Come, Emanuel!

The next day, the First Sunday of Advent, December 1, we walked all the way to the corner, north on Black Forest, and back home by way of Cooper Grove. It was also about half an hour. I borrowed my daughter Anne’s shoes, thinking they would be better for my feet, but I got a blister! I felt the arch support digging into my left foot as soon an I started walking, and that should have been a warning to me that these were the wrong shoes for me. Live and learn! It was getting cold, as it was evening this time when we went for our walk. I wore layers, including a fleece jacket and a windbreaker, and a scarf to cover my ears from the wind. I was too hot! I am glad I had the scarf for my ears for the first part of the walk, as the wind was blowing on them, but by the time we turned onto Cooper Grove, I had to take my gloves and scarf off.

I will try to write every day about what I did (Ian will not be with me to train every day, so this blog will be my perspective of the journey). More to come!

If you have been on this pilgrimage, I encourage you to leave feedback here! I would like to know every detail that you can remember: blisters, shoes, prayers, songs, rain & mud, heat & cold, hunger & thirst (physical and spiritual), priests, new friends met along the way, funny things that happened, tears and joys, fears & triumphs, sleeping on the ground, camping equipment you took, wish you had taken, or wish you had not taken, what you thought it was going to be like, and how it met your expectations.

If you have not been on this pilgrimage but have though about it (or another pilgrimage), I encourage you to leave a comment also! Why do you want to go on pilgrimage? What do you hope to find?