The Great Wall of China

For the fourth time in all these years I went up the Great Wall, the first being twenty five years ago. Then. . . I was young and climbing up steep slopes was not a problem. The second time was still fine. The third time was problematic. I had to get my calf muscles massaged with medicated oil because they hurt so much. That memory has remained so much so that this time round, even before we arrived, I had already made up my mind to remain at the foot while the others made their ascent. Praise God that we were taken to another part of the Great Wall, and here, lo and behold, one can use the cable car to go up to a part that boasted of magnificent scenery. There was also a narrow sandy path to take and so it was not perfectly easy. Praise God I had a lady to walk with me. She was polite and helpful having grown up in the area. Of course she meant to sell me some souvenirs. To her surprise, I simply gave what she asked for. That day I do believe I gave her some food for thought. She had anticipated some haggling but I was happy to simply share my joy with her. Here she is, together with photos of Jin Shan Ling.

I had the chance to take the short cable car journey with the priest of the Church of Immaculate Mary, Tiger Valley. As Fr entered the cable car, he made the sign of the cross. I followed him and said a little prayer in my heart. Then we enjoyed the view and as he asked me about my impressions of the pilgrimage thus far, I was delighted to let him know how grateful I was feeling. Wherever we went we had been received with warmth. I had come expecting to give. But no, I have taken more than I could ever give. Truly there is more happiness in giving than in receiving. Our fellow Catholics in China and Inner Mongolia know that well. May they  be blessed always!

 Here are some photos to show the delight on our faces. I remember that at Badaling, the other part, teeshirts with the words ‘I have climbed the Great Wall’ were sold. That was good. . . but I cannot claim to have done that this time. Praise God!

See the photo of my young friend – it is a rare photo. Who could have been rewarded with such a smile at such a height on such a hot day. . . Simply sharing these photos now and evoking the memories of those two weeks is reward enough. And there is Fr Matthew too… and Fr Anthony with Doris…

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