During the summer months I felt the need to practically support a pro-life charity. So, I decided to fundraise for The Good Counsel Network, a Catholic pro-life charity that helps women in the most difficult and desperate situations with financial, moral and spiritual support. I decided to walk The Thames Path Way (184 miles - 296kms) solo, averaging 23 miles per day, whilst carrying all my kit (tent, food and provisions), weighing approximately 32 lbs (14.5kgs), for eight days (Friday 7 October 2011 – Friday 14 October 2011).
On the morning of the pilgrimage (Friday 7 October 2011) I served at the Traditional Latin Mass at St Dominic‟s (Dursley, Gloucestershire), which was celebrated by Father Redman. It was a beautiful way to start this pilgrimage, especially on the Feast of the Holy Rosary.
The Thames Path Way was an incredibly scenic walk where I followed the river from the source in the rural Cotswolds going though tranquil meadows, past willows trees, with rowers and swans as fleeting companions. It was enjoyable to walk next to peaceful water meadows, through historic towns and cities (Oxford, Reading, Windsor and Hampton Court) before cutting through the heart of London and then finishing at the Thames Barrier. I was absolutely blessed with the weather because throughout the week it only rained once for a couple of hours and the rest of the time it was pleasant sunshine with a cooling breeze. There were periods that I didn‟t see anybody for hours, which was slightly surprising because I expected the route would be bustling with people. At times it was very exhausting walking for 12 – 15 hours a day and most days it involved a dark 5.30am start!
Being separated from the daily commotions of the modern life style was liberating. It was nice to enjoy the silence and therefore to be given the opportunity to focus on God. This enabled me to reflect, meditate and form a closer relationship with God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. During the eight days I had plenty of time to think about the aspects of suffering. In the times of intense physical hardship and exhaustion, this forced me to pray deeper than before and to draw on the intercession of Our Lady, the Saints and Angels. Each day I offered my sufferings for specific intentions. For example, for the end of abortion; for the women that carry the pain and sorrow of having an abortion and that Our Lady may comfort them; for the Holy Souls in Purgatory; and for other private intentions. Also, suffering is a powerful process of purification preparing us for Heaven and it reminded me that we live in a fallen world.
After each day I thanked God for the suffering I endured because it helped me develop a tender heart toward others who are in pain, reflect on my weaknesses and it has strengthened and deepened my love for God and for the beauty of the Catholic Faith. Each day I thanked God for watching over me with an incomparable love, every moment bestowing favours and for the benefits which I have received from him, particularly for that day.
On my last day of walking (Friday 14 October 2011) I prayed at the Good Counsel Vigil at the Whitfield Street Abortuary in the morning. Afterwards I then carried on my walk to my final destination – The Thames Barrier! Arriving at the Thames Barrier I took a moment to reflect on the journey that I had just accomplished and endured – it was an incredible feeling of achievement. Then I looked at the map and realised that I had another mile to walk to the nearest London Overground! To mark the end of this long pilgrimage I arrived at Covent Garden (Central London) where I assisted at the Traditional Latin Mass at Corpus Christi in the evening, which the Latin Mass Society organises for the work of the Good Counsel Network [http://www.goodcounselnet.co.uk/].
Everyone's prayers kept me strong and the thought of saving lives helped me to keep going through the long strenuous days. I would like to thank everyone for their prayers, messages of support and generous donations in saving lives.
Overall, it was a fantastic pilgrimage that hopefully will save the lives of babies and help the souls of their mothers. This walk has been an incredible experience at different levels for me that I will hopefully cherish in years to come and whilst on my journey I deepened my love for God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was a truly humbling experience.
(David has so far raised £1,466.00 for Good Counsel, see here to support his walk.)