April in Paris

April in Paris May 8, 2024

April in Paris | Large Solid-Faced Canvas, Black Floating Frame Wall Art Print | Great Big CanvasWell, it is now May, but I arrived there three weeks ago, and so the quote is legit, “April in Paris.”  I went back to resume my journey along the Vie Francigene as it is called there.

This was a journey planned to begin right after I retired from clergy life, literally the day after.  My last Sunday was Easter and the ticket was for Easter Monday.  Only I picked the wrong year – 2020.

By Easter, Covid was global and terrifying.  “April in Paris” was nothing like the song that year.

My first day of full-time Pilgrim Life

Had to wait.  It would be deferred for almost two years.  My first venture after Covid was not the Via Francigena but Israel, in January of 2023.  Not until September did I begin the journey planned for spring of 2020.  And only now was I able to hum that other tune, “I love Paris in the springtime.” 

I sat in my tiny hotel room on the seventh floor of my little hoptel with almost a view of Sacred Coeur as i drafted this long overdue post.  Now I am back in Michigan (though jet lag is still very present) and between the time I arrived in April and when I drafted this post, I walked well over 200 km through the fields of northern France, from Arras to Reims.  I could and should also add about 30 kms around Paris itself.

And all of it was written down.

My tablet tells me I wrote 45,756 words.  That’s a book.  Not one worth reading, but my attempt to record what I did and felt and thought. The Via Francigena in France - Via Francigena

I will spare you the rough draft, but will say that pilgrim life is an internal and personal version of Base Communities, a Catholic movement in Latin America in the late 20th century, that consciously combined action and reflection as a discipline.

Each day I walk for hours, and while walking take in the world and my sense of it.  Each evening I write down what I saw and thought (as far as I can remember it) and in so doing try to find some meaning or insight from it.

The hardest part comes next:

reflection on the reflection.  Call it editing or revising, it comes down to removing what is ephemeral.  Knowing the ephemeral is hard because everything ultimately is ephemeral.  As I noted in my daily record, to be a pilgrim walker is to embody the premise of Buddhism – that everything is ephemeral.

That task, winnowing the meaningful ephemeral from the meaningless ephemeral, will only happen after I get home; at which time the ordinary tasks of life, deferred so I could do this will demand their rightful attention. Cataract surgery is coming in two weeks.  The yard needs attention I am sure.  And then there is my grandson.

Pilgrim Life is far more than the walk.

The easiest part is the walk.


About W. Frederick Wooden
Fred is a late life author, having spent over forty years in six churches spread over five states. His travels, short stories, a memoir from following in the footsteps with those who marched from Selma to Montgomery, a year of writing haiku as a spiritual exercise, have all ripened into books, three of which are available on Amazon. Fred has led many lives – composer, pastor, pilgrim, political candidate, newspaper columnist, radio host, father and spouse. He has explored Canada, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Turkey, India, China, Japan, Israel and western Europe. Those who have read his travel accounts often say, “I feel like I am actually with you as you go.” You can read more about the author here.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!