Thursday, May 03, 2012

Opinion : Unlikely pilgrims

Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather.
There's no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent,
To be a pilgrim.
John Bunyan, "The Pilgrim's Progress"
It’s interesting how one’s views evolve. I confess I was always slightly non-plussed when asked to sponsor friends and colleagues for charity abseils, parachute jumps and runs. I never objected to making a contribution to a good cause. Privately however, I would have preferred just to hand over the money without the performance involved or to have sponsored something useful like hospital visiting or gardening for the elderly.   
Like many people, I was moved recently by the sad death of a runner during the London Marathon and the united response from the public. Reading of her frequent efforts to raise money for charity in this way and the inspiration it provided for others, I marvelled at the million pounds raised for her preferred good cause, the Samaritans and began better to understand the point of it all.

Coincidentally, I have just been reading Rachel Joyce’s novel “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” in which a simple pensioner is touchingly impelled to walk the length of the country to Berwick-upon-Tweed to see (and save) a former colleague, dying in a hospice. All this made one think of the significance of the impulse of the ordinary person (if there is such a thing) to commit to pilgrimage in its many forms. It seems that good people often unselfishly feel the need to go that further mile to benefit others. In acting altruistically these pilgrims dispel cynicism and help restore one's faith in humanity



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