We wander around the hillside, turning red and gold with the season, and we sit in a grove amongst the wild thyme and the soft mosses of the high country.
I am out of sorts this afternoon, bothered by my ordinariness, my three dimensionality, among other things.
Medugorje is gentle and sweet, understated in its glory and gaudy in its commercialism. The streets are lined with the iconography of Christendom, mostly cheap trinkets, and the taxis ferrying people up and down Apparition Hill, where Mary first appeared to the children of Medugorje back in 1981, are, well a) unroadworthy in my own country and b) driven by madmen through narrow streets . . . the Grand Prix was on TV last night, perhaps that’s it.
I am loving being around the people of Herzegovina. It is easy to play the fool in ignorance, when the politics of difference leaves us peering in from the outside; not so now the strangers have come for me. They have fed us. They have kept us warm. They see the miracle in us and for that . . . well, as a pilgrim I can show my colours . . . my humility is scrambled with unworthiness.
Mary appears at 20 to six every evening, these days to just one of the six ‘visionaries’ who first met her on the mountain 26 years ago. The local church is packed at this time, as cult Catholicism echoes around the chamber inside, and broadcast outside, loud speakers rumbling chanted Latin into the ice cold evening. Now and then they break into song. Eventually I can sing along, to an anthemic Kumbaya. Others, in another tradition, might call it Satsang. I stand at the back of the church, shoulder to shoulder with humanity in all its European colours; the chanting calls my awareness to feet that have no interest in standing for two hours on the hard stone floor, the hymns make the slog worth its while – Christian hymns are magnificent in chorus.
There is snow on the mountains. Big snow. White snow. Bloody cold out there snow. We have to walk through the mountains tomorrow snow. Ben and I have woollies enough to put everything on and be warm, just, at midday. Add a sleeping bag and hopefully we’ll be warm enough to get through the night . . . if I can bring myself to leave the Rosabel Hotel.
Mira and Nikola have been impeccable hosts. Mira is like the wind; Nikola the river. And Rosabel is the prettiest hotel in town. We have rested for two nights in warm beds in a warm room and been fed three course meals three times a day – wonderful, lovingly prepared, nutritious and delicious food. The best food I’ve had since leaving home. Rosabel’s loving hospitality is worthy of . . . well, the company of Mary, Our Lady herself.
Our Journey GoogleMapsOur Skits on Youtube 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Partypilgrims "The Movie" 1