With those words Ailsa Piper sought sponsors for a 1300km solo walk across Spain. She worried people would think shed joined a cult. She worried her knees would give out—and not from praying! She worried that 30kms a day for six weeks, with a swag of sins for company, would send her mad. But she went.
She began at Easter, a time of sin and reflection—but not hot cross buns, as she discovered. She hiked olive groves, searched for lodgings in refuges and sports centres, and did the crying for those whod sponsored her. As a child, Ailsas plea was ‘Dont cry. Dont cry. Let me do the crying!’ Her walk took that to new extremes.
Like medieval believers who paid others to carry their sins to holy places, and so buy forgiveness, Ailsas donors confessed to anger and envy, pride and lust, sloth and selfishness, among others. Along the way, their sins became hers. She was tempted and she battled. On one occasion, she was saved by a fellow pilgrims snoring, proving sharing a room with forty belching, grunting blokes can be a blessing! Miracles also found her. Matrons stuffed homemade sausages into her pack. Angels in name and nature eased her path. And she fell in love: with kindness, strangers, and Spain.
She came home changed—as were many of her sinners. Their stories made her believe in the power of confession—acknowledging were all sinners. All saints.
Sinning Across Spain celebrates the blessing of bathtubs, the benediction of bunions, and the simple act of setting down one foot after the other.