Anyone for Pilgrimage?
You may be reading this refreshed and returned from some summer adventures, or you may be reading this while looking forward to an autumn break. I wonder whether physical activity was, or is, involved? Physical exercise is undoubtedly good for us and is something we either love or hate.
Some people have worked out a way of linking exercise and faith. They exercise to certain music, meditate on aspects of faith while busy, or spend their whole lives ”running the race” as the Apostle Paul said.
Many of the world faiths talk about pilgrimage, talk about walking tough paths and making tough decisions and “Tough” seems particularly active in the world at the moment, both nationally, internationally and no doubt personally too.
The Christian faith used to spend much more time on pilgrimage, it’s almost out of favour at the moment but that might not be for the best.
Pilgrimage is good because it strips away things of this world, material things, social position and shows us what we are really made of. It gives time to process events, particularly bad ones and regain perspective, connecting once more with forces outside of ourselves.
Walsingham in Norfolk was the Middle Ages site for Royal pilgrimage and Glastonbury Tor ( yes, and the festival) works for many today. Of course we live next door to a great site of pilgrimage, that of Stonehenge, which has drawn people to travel to it for many and varied reasons throughout the millennia.
The well read amongst us may see merit in discussing Bunyon’s “Pilgrims Progress” and others will remember school assemblies when we sang “To be a pilgirm” but there are two remarkable facts that I was unaware of until recently.
Firstly that there is a British Pilgrimage Trust where people of all faiths and of none post their pilgrimage routes for others to share around sites of spiritual significance.
And secondly that Plain Church Celtic Community lives on The Celtic Way, a long route of some 600 Kms which goes from St Michaels in Cornwall to Fishguard in South Wales and passes up the high street of Shrewton. Who knew!?