The fields are full of the golden of harvest time, whether ripe and ready, swaying in the wind - oats and barley and wheat - or cut and short and prickly, and with hay drying in striped field-geometric lines.
Our waymarkers are different now: the St Cuthbert cross now guides the path. I've decided to use the last part of our walk, the 5 stages of St Cuthbert's Way, to let myself be challenged in some more traditionally religious ways. After all, pilgrimage as a spiritual practice belongs to the tradition of many religions, including my own, and I have chosen to make this more than just a Very Long Walk. I am using the prompt offered by every single post to sign my palm with a cross, as a physical, active reminder of my life orientation towards God - towards love, and open-hearted wonder, and thankfulness. Towards mystery. And towards being really present. There is a post at every corner and turn in the route, many, many times in the day!
One element of this special experience of pilgrimage for me is the space for being very intentional about some spiritual practices. Whether explicitly religious, like this Christ-cross gesture, or spiritual-not-particularly-religious/ordinary, like just noticing what I notice in the here and now (and noticing when my thoughts are caught up with concerns relating to other places, or other times), or choosing to be thankful, or creating a daily sketch of 'one thing' that came alive for me today. Each is (for me) equally valuable because it's about something very personal in my relationship with God, in my intention and attention, and in my attitude of heart. It's all prayer.
Perfect walking weather, mild but with with a warm breeze (or was it warm with a cool breeze?), becoming an energetic wind over the Cheviots, and views of the plains and hills and dales, into the far distance in every direction. Where we have come from, where we are heading, and where we will not go, this time, but who knows where we will find ourselves in future?
Breathtaking. Exhilarating. Fabulous.