marlyat2 – Thanks for this point about walking. These days i try and keep posts on the shortish side so that people will read them all the way through, but believe me, I did want to go on about pilgrimage and such – and was hoping someone would bring it up in the comments, instead! So thanks; I couldn’t have said it better. The long walk does have a lot of appeal for me too, personally, though I’m not sure I’m as crazy about walking alone as I used to be. To hell with God – I’d want a flesh-and-blood hiking companion!

I got your emails; haven’t read them yet.

There is a hint of ritual defilement in the story, I think, yes. I hadn’t thought about the way it helps set up the wrestling-with-whatever story – interesting.