There comes a time in every trip when I think of Tom Waits's rendition of “Waltzing Matilda.” There is one line where he groans in his rumbly voice, “And no one speaks English and everything's broken.”
The first morning of my pilgrimage from Le Puy, I woke up and realized it was not the right thing for me to do. It was confusing, overwhelming. Still,I packed my bag and went to the pilgrim breakfast and sang along to the intolerable pilgrim anthem. At 7 a.m. sharp I was in the cathedral, seated before the altar of the black Virgin Mary and listening to some priest drone on in French.
Sitting there amidst the pilgrims, I had a realization. It was probably the most powerful realization I have ever had in a church. I needed to leave. Immediately. I got up while the priest was still speaking and walked the first mile of le Chemin, which led me to the train station. Five minutes later, I was on the morning train to Lyon, going back from whence I had come the day before.
Why? Lots of reasons, really. Most of them relate to my health. I've been ill, and my meds haven't settled down. My sleep is disturbed, and my hands are quaking so much that I have even less coordination than usual. I was going to be far from public transportation or internet access, a brutal combo. The gite made me sing a weird pilgrim song.
“No one speaks English and everything's broken.” So true.
Time to waltz.
- ▼ May (8)