Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage, UK

Eid celebrations around the world

The best way to learn about a culture is to go where they play and pray so the disruption to the Eid celebrations around the world diminishes us all.

I have a special connection with Eid.

As it was one of the early stories I covered as part of a column ‘Church News’ which I broadened beyond Christianity.

Eid ul-Adha, to give it its first full name, means ‘the celebration of the sacrifice’.

And it brings to an end the holy month of Ramadan.

All our story

It marks the story of Allah asking The Prophet Mohammed in a dream to sacrifice his son Ismael.

Which Jews and Christians will know as the Abraham and Isaac story.

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The way it usually is

It should come as little surprise to us that Judaism, Christianity and Islam have the same roots and stories.

But it is nowhere more evident than at the crossroads of the great religions in the Jordan valley and in Israel.

Ever the diplomat

Where I would readily recommend my G Adventures host Zuhair Zuriqat.

His diplomatic prowess in managing our international party surely marks him out.

To broker the peace in this part of the world.

Now you know I love a festival as much if not more than the next man or woman…

And that those festivals normally involve drink.

Festival time

But not always.

I am transfixed by religious festivals too and will gladly travel the world to witness or take part in them.

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Joy in our hearts

Of course, the world being a smaller place, particularly now, we should also acknowledge that many of these festivals are on our doorstep.

Which is why it is alarming to hear that the lightning lockdowns in the north of England on the eve of Eid weekend may be deliberate.

Eid is all about extended families coming together at each others’ houses.

And there is more than a hint of mistrust from our politicians here who do not think that Muslims can adapt their customs accordingly to the pandemic.

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Our cup of tea… and I love reship

When in fact they are already doing so around the world with Turkey a prime example.

Of course Istanbul as we saw on our televisions with the Hagia Sofya celebrations last week is even more epic when its citizens come out to pray.

But they too are adapting their Eid to the current circumstances.

Sing out

That means communal prayers are cancelled to be replaced with broadcast prayers from the minarets of mosques.

Now just think about that… would our Government cancel Christmas, and with just a few hours’ notice?  Time will tell but you have to think not.

EID MUBARAK OR (AS THEY SAY IN TURKEY) BAYRAMINIZ KUTLU OTSUN

 

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage

The Sunday Sermon – the Hagia Sofia

Hate has no place in the house of God – Desmond Tutu

The anti-apartheid hero and man of God was talking in metaphors, and about South Africa, but his balming words fit Hagia Sofya in Istanbul just as well.

When Turkey President Recip Erdogan championed Hagia Sofia’s return.

In prayer

From a museum to a mosque it drew 250,000 of the faithful to pray on the streets of Istanbul.

And it roused an outcry from the Christian churches, the Roman Catholic, the Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox.

Which rung way beyond the ancient high walls of the iconic Istanbul building.

Orthodox

Iconic, yes, to the Orthodox churches.

For whom it is one of their holiest places and who focus on icons for their worship.

Fount of all wisdom

So the sight of drapes covering the mosaic of Our Lady was bound to have raised their ire.

Of course central to Islam is that Allah and the Prophet Mohamed, and Jesus or Our Lady, cannot be represented by images.

Crossroads

Istanbul is unique among the great cities of the world, one foot in Europe, one in Asia.

Royal splendour

Which is why the great Christiian churches of old which called Constantinople, Istanbul’s old name, home are prefixed with their country of origin.

Powerplay

There is, as there always has been in this part of the world, a powerplay going on.

And we, those of us who have been to Istanbul, and those who have yet to, must not fall for it.

Circle of trust

Because this should not, or ever be, about Islam v Christian.

And yes President Erdogan is tapping into Islamic popularism but that does not have to equate to anti-Christianity.

Icons

And we will still be able to visit it as a mosque which we will do.

Our house

Because as I discovered in Sarajevo with Marian Pilgrimages and Jordan with G Adventures and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time God is the same whichever house you’re in.

Countries, Europe, Ireland, Pilgrimage

St James on Bray Head in Ireland

If you see Her throwing me over Bray Head don’t call the Gardaí… she has my permission.

No, I’m not getting maudlin during lockdown, it’s just that that’s where I want my ashes scattered.

There on my favourite walk between my old home in Greystones, Co. Wicklow and also by Bishop Elphinstone’s grave in King’s College, Aberdeen.

My beloved Greystones and my beloved

I wish I could be with you (alive you understand) tomorrow as you take your first steps on your Camino.

I took mine too on one of Camino Ways’ training walks on St James’s Day in Ireland’s Garden County.

Where I met founder and ‘force of nature’ Roland Monsegu who I would share many a glass of wine with over future years.

Got there

Including at one of my billets on the French Way to Santiago de Compostella where he was doing a recce.

Today is both St James’s birthday and the national day of Galicia where his bones lie in Santiago.

The first of their training Sunday walks will begin at the seafront in Bray at 9.30am and last a leisurely two to two-and-a-half hours.

It is a 7km healthy cliffside walk skirting the sea.

Working my ass off

While you can look down on the train to Greystones making its way to the tunnel built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Before emerging through the other side in Greystones.

You’ll see it yourself halfway around the bend, its newly-refurbished harbour dotted with yachts.

And its blue and yellow cottages standing out in the distance as it did in times of old so the fishermen could recognise their homes in the dark.

On the road

Which is the same in Galicia where the name of the province is a giveaway… they’re Gaels really.

If you’re in Ireland then you’re already blessed and it’s likely you’ll need to be to walk the Bray Head.

And to be part of the fun here’s where to get tickets.

You’re James too

And if you feel like going that extra mile then why not veer off from the group and go up to the top of the Head and the Southern Cross.

Where there is (yes, you guessed it) a Christian cross.

America, Caribbean, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Pilgrimage, UK

The Sunday Sermon –

“I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (Psalm 104:33).

Psalm 104:3

But when will we be able to sing again in church?

I have long sung lustily and croakily and in the wrong place and always find that the service is less uplifting when the organist or the choir are off.

But that is what we’ll have to put up with when our churches reopen, initially for private prayer and funerals.

A hotel with its own church… on the road to Rome

The sound of a stirring choir has lifted me in cathedrals and smaller churches on all the pilgrimages I have been on… A pilgrim’s prayer, Small roads lead to Rome, The Lourdes prayer and What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know.

There is a gravitas to the singing as the botafumeiro swings from side to side in St James’s Cathedral during the Pilgrims’ Mass at the end of your Camino Ways walk http://www.caminoways.com.

But the real stirring stuff comes from the black gospel singers on the other side of the Atlantic.

And yes, I know we have them over here but they’re not in the same number.

I’d been chasing the choirs unsuccessfully on my travels and was disappointed to have to miss the Southern choir in Jackson, Mississippi https://www.deep-south-usa.com and The Promised Land because our flights back through Texas clashed with the choir.

Mas took precedent over Mass during Crop Over on Barbados http://www.visitbarbados.org. And Mas is a party.

But I did get to take in said choir in Anaheim https://disneyland.disney.go.com/destinations/disneyland/ at our street breakfast party http://www.visitcalifornia.com.

Before finally getting to a church in Tobago https://www.visittobago.gov.tt Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago.

MEET YOU IN THE PEWS

America, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage

Give us this Day – the sermon on the mountain

Watch therefore for ye know neither the.day nor the hour that the Son of Man cometh – Matthew 25

Ignoring that this is the Parable of the Ten Virgins and that it deals with how prepared or otherwise they were to serve the bridegroom.

But there is a message here about preparedness and the buzz phrase ‘stay alert’ and, scholar that he is, I’m sure Boris Johnson would know of the passage’s significance.

All of which Biblical touchpoints brings me to a mountain looking over Jericho, Jerusalem and The Promised Land… www.visitjordan.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam

The Promised Land: On Mt Nebo

Which is the closest Moses got to taking his people home which was of course the central theme of the sermon on the mountain.

He died atop the mountain, punishment for an earlier row with God.

No, not that one, but a homily in the church given by the Sri Lankan pastor in Mt Nebo.

Alas, I was whisked away from hearing his pay-off as our G Adventures group www.gadventures.co.uk were bound for the desert.

As you all know by now I make a point of going where people play and pray.

And listen to the sermons.

Here’s to Moses

When your holy man (and it’s almost always a man) gets to pace the stage.

Use his hands and tease, cajole, comfort and berate us.

It’s no coincidence that some of the world’s greatest orators have been preachers… Martin Luther Dresden’s renaissance and https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/tourism.php.

And Dr Martin Luther King Easy DC and https://washington.org,

Me and Martin: In Dresden

Though, of course we could never see Martin Luther in his pomp now but you couldn’t help but get a sense of the man in Saxony.

And there is a preacher at Luther’s church, the Frauenkirche in Dresden worthy of his famous predecessor.

As he recalled his own father taking him to the ruins of the church where only the statue of Luther still stood and vowed that one day it would be rebuilt.

His near namesake is all over Washington where his statue remains unfinished in homage to the unfinished struggle.

While in Memphis https://www.civilrightsmuseum.org his last resting place The Promised Land the Civil Rights Tourist will want to take in the Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ Headquarters) in Memphis, Tennessee.

Where he gave his rousing ‘I have been to the Mountaintop sermon https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zgVrlx68v-0.

Like Moses he (and me) did not get to the Promised Land but he has seen the glory of the Lord.

And we will too when all this is over.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine, Pilgrimage

Hungry and Thursday – Pickle your Croatian walnuts

It was a family tradition to bring home a bottle of liqueur from foreign shores.

But my parents” drinks trolly seriously lacked a bottle of Croatian Orahovaca.

Sure we had Dubonnet from thr Riviera The Boat D’Azur and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/us.france.fr/en/news/article/about-atout-france-0/amp made for a competition in 1846.

Here’s to Our Lady

To provide the French Foreign Legion to take quinine to combat malaria.

And ouzo from Greece My Greek odyssey https://athensattica.com and Aperol in Padova https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/15/padova-city-of-frescoes/amp/ to name just a few.

But while we’ve all ventured through the Balkans on the other side of the Adriatic nobody dipped a toe in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Would I look big in this?

Until I visited Our Lady and Medjugorje where they’re all Croatians, with Marian Pilgrimages https://marian.ie and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/www.thesun.ie/travel/5132756/a-pilgrims-progress-in-medjugorje/amp/.

Now Medjugorje is many things other than a site to Mary… who am I kidding, it’s all about Our Lady.

But trawl the stalls and you’ll find some treasures other than the holy water and Virgin Mary that will get you into Heaven.

A cross around every corner

Such as Orahovaca which a Balkan trader up by the bus station in Medjugorje was showcasing.

I’ve been to a few wine-tastings in function rooms of hotels, so testing Maria’s samples from plastic cups was a different experience altogether.

But it was worth it and got the thumbs-up from the Scary One and Daddy’s Little Girl when I finally broke open the bottle yesterday.

We adapted the sweet walnut drink by having it on the rocks which meant we drank more.

And you’ll get a statue in the village

But at about a fiver I can always stock up the next time I’m out there.

And at the end of it all we all felt filled with wholly spirit.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage, UK

Give us this Day – church is back in Germany

And again the Germans are leading the way.

With Chancellor Angela Merkel giving the green light for churches to reopen.

Worshippers will have to wear masks, respect social distancing, and there will be no singing.

Which will, alas, be taking the best bit out of the service.

Signs of peace are out and you will have to keep to your own marked territory at communion.

Pray de Cologne

Closer to God: Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral will be their guide with only 122 people allowed in for its reopening ceremony as opposed to the 20,000 who visit every day.

Now I’ve spent a bit of time in German churches.

Not as much as I’d like… wherever I travel I love to go where the locals play and pray.

Churchtown: Oberammergau

This year I was meaning to go to Oberammergau for the ten-year resumption of the Passionsspiele https://www.passionsspiele-oberammergau.de/en/home.

Passion of Bavaria

But the reenactment of the Passion of Christ which the villagers first put on in 1634 as a thank you to God for ridding them of the plague has been moved back to 2022.

Thankfully I did get to join the Bavarians at play as part of our walking holiday with www.topflightforschools.ie and www.topflight.ie.

When they had the drapes out for the 2020 Oberammergau which was due to start on May 16.

Everyone has a cross to bear

But they were that day celebrating a landmark anniversary of their fire service.

By dressing up in traditional lederhosen and parading through the streets.

With their buildings adorned with murals depicting their plague history.

Simple Christianity

Their churches by contrast are fairly simple affairs with small wooden crosses, a lectern and an inviting Bible on a seat when you enter.

Light a candle: Oberammergau

Which I did, taking a detour from the people milling through the streets and villagers to find a place of worship with its doors open.

Remember that!

Plague reminders

Now while it seems like 40 days and 40 nights since we last did Mass…

It’s as nothing compared with the resilient and God-fearing Dresdeners.

Dresden, a city rebuilt

Who saw their Frauenkirche levelled by the Allies’ firestorm in 1945.

And left in rubble all through Communist rule until the Saxons started rebuilding it when they got their province back.

Which you can read about in Dresden’s renaissance and https://www.dresden.de/index_en.php.

A day out in Oberammergau: Remembering the firemen

It’s an inspirational story, one of endurance, patience and redemption.

Here in Scotland it’s our Catholic Church rather than the reforming church which is first out of the blocks on lockdown xx (yes, the great resistors).

And of course in the absence of live sport never since the Holy Spirit dropped in on the Apostles will transubstantiation feel so exciting.

When the church doors reopen.

MEET YOU IN THE PEWS

Adventure, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Pilgrimage

Every day’s a schoolday – the virtual Seven Wonders

Every day is a schoolday was never so apt with parents all over the world going back to class with their kids… and relearning our geography.

The world is all around me… from fridge magnets to desk souvenirs to the big atlas that takes up half the wall.

Say a prayer: With my pal Hannah

But in the absence of actually being able to get out there just now to visit the wonders of the world we can take a virtual voyage.

Uswitch have brought together seven virtual tours of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World to inspire us for the future.

In with the locals: With my pal Humpy

Carved in my heart

Which, of course, includes magical Petra, where I sweltered and swooned… www.vistjordan.com www.gadventures.co.uk.

This is what Uswich has got for you .

With the honey-toned voice of this teacher better suited than the nasal Scottish twang of your Bandanaman… https://www.google.co.uk/maps/about/behind-the-scenes/streetview/treks/petra/.

But, of course, I took my own circuitous journey… The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

Don’t tell anyone… I’m a Christian

Colossal

Like everything in life there is always someone who wants to charge you for what you can see with your own eyes.

The Colosseum is one such example.

Your own imagination is your best tool… and supplement it with Uswich’s tour with this hour-long walking tour of the Colosseum.  

And why not at the end of your Francigena Ways 100km pilgrimage walk from Viterbo into Rome www.FrancigenaWays.com

Now that obviously leaves a golden of wonders (if that’s the collective term) for me still to do.

Now that’s a walk

China in your hands

Which are… The Great Wall of China. And one that got away from me.

When a former colleague who would usually turn their nose up at going to Travel events decided they would grace this promotion in Dublin.

Hey ho, I was off on my travels elsewhere at the time.

But I’ll get there yet, and don’t you know the Wall isn’t going anywhere… Virtual Tour provided by The China Guide

And that’s another

Peru too true

Machu Picchu, Mexico: And the preserve of the backpacking trustafarians but heck us oldies can walk the legs off most of them.

The Uswich virtual tour comes complete with a voiceover, will be right up your street.

Dome from home

Indian stunner

Taj Mahal, India: I’ve spent many a happy and drunken night at the Taj Mahal… trouble is it’s the Indian restaurant in Glasgow.

Still Uswich have allowed me behind the scenes of India’s Crown Jewel and once I do get out there I will channel my own Princess Diana look.

Mexican rave

Mexican areeba

Chichen Itza, Mexico: The nearest I’ve got to Mexico is a summer spent working in GuadalaHarry’s in Boston.

Don’t judge me! Rather let’s us all experience a 360 view of the stepped pyramids in this virtual tour. 

Putting Christ on his pedestal

Rio by the sea-o

Christ the Redeemer, Rio: And did you know there’s one in Lisbon too? Yes, if you’re Portuguese obviously.

But Rio offers the added extra of the Copacabana.

Here’s Uswich’s www.uswitch.com introduction to Christ the Redeemer in Rio… a virtual tour of the statue.

All wonderful wonders we’d all agree and ones you can tick off with G Adventures www.gadventures.co.uk and well done Uswitch but why no place for the Acropolis?

The wonder of the Acropolis

Greek gift

Which is just one of many contenders for the Wonders of the World… https://athensattica.com and My Greek odyssey.

And your teacher will be back next week with more perils of wisdom. Remember your homework everyone.

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, Pilgrimage, UK

Sign me up for the end of the world… Finisterre

Our forebears in the Middle Ages believed that Finisterre at the outpost of Galicia in north-west Spain was the end of the world.

And they would carry their penitential pilgrimage, the 87kms to Santiago de Compostella on to Finisterre.

Well, if this is the end of the world I’m jumping right off. Gladly!

Here’s your ‘cut-out and keep’ guide to everything you want to know about Finisterre and the Camino…

I need a rest… after that coach ride!

Piper at the gates of heaven

Santiago to Finisterre, 87kms: What else would you expect at the Edge of the World? A Galician piper belts out a Celtic tune by the lighthouse at Finisterre, the westernmost post of their world.

A sign with the Camino shell, marks 0,00kms.

Many pilgrims continue on by foot from Santiago to Finisterre.

Wendy, my fellow peregrinos, take a three-hour coach ride from Santiago (€26 return) on our last day, Wednesday.

Any trip to the Edge of the World should not be rushed, there is much to see, from quiet coves to golden beaches and coastal villages.

With azure and terracotta-washed cottages.

As I look out on the horizon from atop the cliff on the clearest of clear days I can see why my Celtic predecessors refused to countenance that there could be anything beyond or above this.

Wear light clothes

The legend of the Camino

Santiago de Compostella, or ‘St James of the Field of Stars’, the name derives from the belief that the bones of St James the Greater were taken here from the Middle East to Spain.

Where he is reported to have preached earlier in his mission.

In 814AD Bishop Theodoric of Aria Flavia, is said to have been guided there by a shepherd who had been led to the bones by a star.

A church was built over the bones and later replaced with the Catedral de Santiago.

Pilgrims have been walking the Camino, originally from their own homes as a starting point. ever since, as a penance and to gain indulgence.

The Scallop Shell

When St James’s disciples were shipping his body to the Iberian Peninsula a storm is said to have hit the boat and his body was thought lost to the sea.

However, it washed ashore undamaged, coated by scallop shells.

Pilgrims display their shells for identification and are rewarded still with charity from locals.

Medieval pilgrims would also use them to scoop up drinking water: pilgrims take them home as keepsakes.

When to go

April-June, September-October: Galicia is at its most colourful with spring and autumn hues and the temperature is warm without being baking (late teens to early 20sC).

Winter is quieter and temperatures can dip to the early double figures.

Galicia is so verdant because of the rain so be prepared.

A hat and a rucksack… and you’re ready to go

What to bring

Walking boots and socks, picking trousers (convertible with zip to make them shorts).

No jeans, they’re restrictive and will weigh you down in the rain and mark you out as a newbie.

Shirts (long-sleeved and t-shirts).

Walking stick (depending on agility and age).

Light rain jacket and polar fleece.

Sun hat, sunglasses, sun cream.

Water bottle, first aid (Paracetamol, competed blister plasters and anti-inflammatory cream).

How to prepare

Caminoways.com hold training walks throughout the year for different levels of walker.

Alternatively avail of the many walkways around the country which can be similar to the Galician terrain.

And do your basic stretching exercises before and after walks.

Some Halloween spirit

Where to eat/drink

Breakfasts in designated Caminoways.com hotels are buffet style. The large range of fruit is healthy and refreshing, bacon and sausages are thinner than Irish tastes while scrambled eggs are constantly light, fresh and tasty.

Cafe/bars on the Camino are well priced, a range of filled baguettes are around a fiver.

And wine and lager range from around @1-1.50 and while the costs increase the nearer to Santiago you get they are not prohibitive.

Hamlets and towns are well served for eating places.

And if you do stumble across a Queimada (a Galician ritual involving stirring a brew in a fiery cauldron) as I did at the Mandala restaurant in Rua Cima Do Lugar, Arzua then that’s a bonus.

I had their equivalent of an early bird of skag bol and wine which filled the plate, all for €6.

I always seize on calamari where I find it, but it’s pulp (octopus) which is Galicia’s speciality.

Sit on a stool and eat with fingers, mopping up the tomato sauce from the bowl with bread and swirling it down with a large red (at La Puerta, Santiago, €6.50).

Santiago is noted for Padron peppers, usually green where the random one is very hot…. Galician Roulette. I chickened out.

Where to stay

Alfonso IX, Rua Do Peregrino 29, 27600, Sarria (close to the river) Good starting point, good hotel sundries.

Pousada de Portomarin, 27170, Avda de Sarria, Portomarin. A welcome archway after the first day. A cosy stay, and ah, a bidet!

Complejo la Cabana C/Dr Pardo Ouro, 27200.

Palasd de Rei: A bit of a hike up town so a walk to restaurants if you choose not to eat at the hotel. There was a wedding on when I tased which was good of them to arrange for our evening entertainment.

Teodora, Avda de Lugo, 38 Arzua: Centrally located, comfortable and friendly.

Amenal 12, O Pino: One-horse hamlet but that’s OK after a 30km trek, and the stew is filling.

Santiago: HOtel Geimirez, Horreo 92, 15702: Ideally located close to the historic old town. A welcome and deserved bottomless tube at the end of your Camino.

Walk this way

The different ways

The French Way: Saint Jean to Santiago, 770km. Las leg: Sarria to Santiago, 116kms.

Portuguese Coastal Way: Porto to Santiago, 236km.

Northern Way: San Sebastian to Santiago, 806km.

Le Puy Way: Le Puy-en-Velay to Santiago, 713km.

What to read/watch

John Bierley: Camino de Santiago guide.

Lonely Planet: Walking in Spain.

Cicerone: Way of St James – Spain.

Everest: Camino de Santiago.

The Way starring Martin Sheen and James Nesbitt.

Who to go with/How to get there

I travelled with Caminoways.com http://www.caminoways.com and Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com.

Caminoway organise guided and self-guided tours on the many routes across Spain, Portugal and France.

Prices start at €560pp sharing for a six-night Camino trip, walking the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago, including half-board, luggage transfers from hotel to hole and holiday pack with pilgrim passport and route information.

Airport transfers, hotel upgrades and bike rental are also available.

This year is a Holy Year for Pilgrims as declared by the Pope The Holy Door of the Cathedral will be open for the Year of Mercy.

And, of course everyone’s Camino is their Camino… This was mine A pilgrim’s prayer.

Have stick, will travel

And this was my Via Francigena.. the last 100kms walk of which I did into Rome from Viterbo www.Francigenaways.com and Small roads lead to Rome.m

My sore feet… on the road to Rome

Heck, let’s go the whole hog and flag up Tenerife too and www.visitingtenerife.com and A walk through the ages… Tenerife.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage

Give us this Day – Sing a song of prayer to the Lord

I’m sitting out my Sunday service today but I will sing a song of prayer to the Lord.

The advice on attending your place of worship has swung back and forth like yon botafumeiro incense holder that almost took me out in Santiago.

With the Diocese of Rome, whose boss, the Pope the ma. I defer to, ordering the closing of churches and then their reopening.

While mosques, synagogues and temples are also reacting coronavirus by closing their doors to protect their flock.

Best consult your place of worship for latest advice.

Of course there has always been an exemption from Sunday worship in my church for those who are old or infirm, if you’re sick, or at risk.

While there is no compulsion on Protestants to attend church with the emphasis very much on an individual’s personal relationship with God.

Through the Good Book and prayer.

And much like Methodists, Baptists and Gospel choirs the best way to pray is to sing.

And to Our Lady

So here are a few songs from my travels to get you going:

Ave Maria (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XpYGgtrMTYs): Well they are Marian sites…

Lourdes https://www.lourdes-infotourisme.com and The Lourdes prayer, Fatima in Portugal Centro www.visitportugal.com.

And Secret Portugal Medjugorje What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know. And Marian Pilgrimages www.marian.ie.

Spiritual

Which is where the greats from Motown from Aretha to Whitney started out and how cruise ships https://www.celebritycruises.co.uk put on entertainment.

I’d missed the old gospel choir in Memphis after I had to get the early-morning connection back to Europe.

But we were greeted to Christmas songs in an antebellum house turned B&B (and Deep South B&Bs are actually country houses). Visit https://www.deep-south-usa.com.

I did manage to get my fix though in Anaheim. See https://visitanaheim.org and www.visitcalifornia.com

And breaking news…

Word reaches us from Siena, Italy, where the locals have been singing to each other for moral support.

Down an empty street https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hDu_kLJ-5Mk.

The song: E mentre Siena Dorme, or While Siena Sleeps.

Italians have never been silenced and never will… http://www.italia.it/en/home.html and Small roads lead to Rome.

And remember everybody has a place in God’s choir.