By: Phil Kerton, Ben Bano
Tournus to Assisi - Reconciliation; finding the soul of Europe.
An early start after a full day at Taizé. With heads buzzing with new memories and fresh ideas for action, we headed for the foothills of the Alps. Scenery became more and more mountainous as we approached the snowline near the entrance to the Mont Blanc Tunnel. All was going well until, almost in sight of the entrance we were held up for over an hour as security staff ensured that no more than the permitted hourly quota of vehicles entered and kept a decent distance apart from one another. Measures aimed at reducing the chances of a repeat of the disastrous fire that closed the tunnel for a year or more not long after its original opening.
Emerging into Italy we found much more snow at our level and considerably more short tunnels to pass through - typically one or two kilometres long. After a short break to attack our packed lunches, our intrepid drivers took us on our way again.
It was a long, long day, taking us over twelve hours to arrive at our destination, to find friendly faces and a meal waiting for us. We were all excited to walk along the well preserved medieval streets in the footsteps of St Francis, St Clare, and their companions and to glimpse the various sites associated with their efforts to rebuild God's Church.
We sonder if we are called to take radical action, as they did - and, if so, do we have the courage to act? In the earlier days of our pilgrimage we met so many people who regret the UK's planned departure from the EU; did we unduly raise their hopes for a reversal of policy? Should we, instead encourage our fellow-citizens to concentrate upon other institutions in which we are linked to Europe? After all, some wonder, can a common sense of destiny and a moral code really emerge from a Union that seems to have become more and more concerned with economic prosperity and less about fellowship, sharing of burdens and the common good?
Perhaps we will uncover more guidance from the lives of the Saints of Assisi and those who have followed in their footsteps.