I have decided to embrace 14 October each year as katey day. It is the day that she quietly slipped her moorings and set sail on the translucent eternal ocean that is God’s liquid love.
This year I visited Quarr Abbey, enjoying the warmth and sunshine of this St Martin’s Summer. Of course today more fashionably renamed ‘Indian Summer’ thanks to a colonial friends in the USA - a time when the first nation’s were seen to return home for harvest and winter and the colonists could expect all raids to cease until the following spring.
However, before this it was St Martin’s Summer describing any period of unexpected sunshine from the end of September until St Martin’s feast day on November 11.
I can’t say I thought too much about St Martin, although he has been in my thoughts. A good friend of mine moved from Pompey to St Martinsfield in Martinstown in Dorset - neither of us know why it was named after St Martin.
Still my trip to Quarr was made as a pilgrim. I had my scrip (day sack) and staff and walked from my house to the car ferry that carried me to the Isle of Wight. En route I paused and prayed at the roofless Garrison Church.
This had once served as a hospital named Domus Dei or House of God. It was built in 1212 to offer hospitality to traveling pilgrims on their way to Chichester, Winchester and Canterbury. It was a time to reflect on Katey’s final day on earth when she received such kindness and welcome from a modern day hospital - on her pilgrimage to God’s presence.
A gentle crossing, followed by my walk to the Abbey and a day of wonderful reflections in the pilgrim chapel, surveying the ruins of the original abbey and visiting a beautiful Norman parish church in Binstead.
I could not help recalling that as I was able to sit out in the Abbey’s grounds in this unexpected yet welcome autumnal warmth, that Katey herself had burned brightest and radiated such a warmth of welcome, calm and beauty in the early and unexpected autumn of her life. And just as this St Martin’s summer will swiftly disappear so her mortal life quietly faded and was extinguished that fateful autumnal evening.
On that occasion as we left the hospital we were sprinkled with raindrops - creation’s tears mingled with our own. However, on this the third anniversary I returned across the Solent gazing upon a glorious sunset; a reminder of Katey’s most glorious inheritance. I smiled and went my pilgrim’s way.