Walsingham is a village in Norfolk where there are shrines to the Virgin Mary following a series of visions experienced by an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman in 1061. It was a major place of pilgrimage in the middle ages until its destruction during the time of the Reformation, at the beginning of the 20th century the shrine was revived and it is once again a popular place to visit, primarily but not exclusively, for Christians.

The village of Walsingham was quiet with an air peace and tranquil serenity about it as I walked down to the Anglican shrine of the Virgin Mary, shrugging off the effects of the last few hours behind the wheel. It was quiet enough to hear the birds singing, warm enough to enjoy that late summer breeze blowing across my face and safe enough for me not to worry about any cars or lorries suddenly racing down the main street and swishing past me at a distance too close for comfort. Once inside the grounds of the Anglican complex I made my way to the chapel in which the shrine was located and at the third time of asking found the correct door to open in order to go inside. Don’t quite know what happened there, the first two doors which to me seemed the obvious ones to try were locked, it was only when seeing people emerge from the third that I worked out that must be the one. Despite the fact I had not drunk or eaten anything since leaving my house Woodford, I did not feel particularly hungry or thirsty, as a matter of fact I felt pretty good, energised and keen to sit in front of the shrine to do my meditation.

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The shrine of the master Ramana Maharshi was to the back of the ashram main temple whose doors opened to the faithful each and every day at six in the morning. My favourite time to go there was in the evening at around 8 pm when it was still warm, very warm more often than not. I would walk around the shrine as one of the crowd, barefoot, in silence, as an act of meditation. Sounds mainly came in the form of the rows of fans rotating high above, suspended from the temple ceiling. There were odd coughs from those dusty pilgrims who appeared each evening, seemingly out of nowhere from other parts of the ashram and further beyond and there were also the slowly encroaching sounds of the oncoming Indian night, sounds of heat, sounds of mystery. Continue reading “Shrine”