For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Is God Feminine?

That first night in Spain I and a small band of other pilgrims attended the 8 o'clock pilgrim mass in the Iglesia de Santa Maria, the church of Saint Mary, in the tiny settlement of Roncesvalles ('valley of thorns'). At the end of mass the 5 of us stood at the altar rail and were duly blessed. Afterwards we shared a simple pilgrim meal in the local bar - bread, soup, trout, deep-fried potatoes and yoghurt, accompanied by a bottle of rough local wine. As usual we swapped stories. The conversation ranged far and wide. One of the pilgrims was a chaplain with the New Zealand armed forces in Afghanistan. He had some interesting practices. One was that he always referred to God as 'She' rather than 'He'. I countered with my own view that God was non-gender-specific. Later it was freezing cold in the dormitory of the refuge, but I was snug and warm inside my sleeping bag with a blanket laid over (the refugios and albergues always provided additional blankets) and I soon fell asleep.

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