Pilgrimpace's Blog


prayer walk

Lovely prayer walk with St Bede’s this evening.  Canal, urban streets, field.  This is the best time of the year, but we saw Brandwood showing off its beauty.

A small group of us met at St Bede’s.  We agreed our route and how to walk.  The first part in silence, the second with prayerful talking.  We were looking out for the places God is obviously very present, and the places where we wish God was more obvious.  We intercessed for those we knew on the way round.

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We savoured the beauty of creation, wild or planted by people.  Girls shouting echoes into the canal tunnel – and laughing when they realised we had seen them.  A woman singing as she cycled.  A fat cat making a car stop as she sauntered across the road.  Breath taken away as we took in the view across Birmingham to the Black Country.



the way to holiness

Again, trying to view this in a way that’s speaks to us both as individuals and as parts of wider groups and bodies:

“The way to holiness is not through dramatic renunciation, and holiness itself is not just for the ‘specialists’, clergy and religious.  Holiness cannot be struggled for and won – it can only be given, and all that is necessary is that we should ask.  As soon as we cease to strive for virtue, concentrating attention uselessly on ourselves, and instead recognise our weakness, our need, the way is open to encounter God and the holiness of Jesus which is His gift.”

– Ruth Burrows

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blessed are – beatitudes litany

A Beatitudes Litany that was formed by Tim Watson listening to Birmingham Estate Church Practitioners talking at our recent residential

Blessed are the misunderstood

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who live with question marks over their existence

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those whose congregations swell by one fifth when a new family arrives

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who see new families arrive just as the service is beginning and leave just as coffee is being announced

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who are working at capacity

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those whose congregations are vulnerable and can do no more

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who find themselves fishing in a declining pool

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those facing tricky handover situations

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who ask, “where is my calling?”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the people who put the bins out

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the people in need of a new roof

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who ask, “What is God’s heart for this area?”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who come into church, bringing life, making nice banners, but not doing the core things

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who think, “It would just be nice to have a team”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the people feeling called to estates ministry

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the ministers who recognize that they are the “other” in their contexts

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who don’t have all the answers

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those whose churches are filled with more vulnerability than capacity

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who make a feature of the pipe work in the gent’s toilets and buy purple standard lamps

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who create beauty where not much beauty is seen – or –Blessed are those who uncover beauty where much beauty remains hidden

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who see generosity and abundance over scarcity

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the ministers who need reminding, “you’re not alone”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who look at the community for what gifts and skills are already present

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who earnestly ask, “how do we love this place?”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those trying to work in a blurry way

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who will not keep reinventing the wheel

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the churches who decided to stay put when their 1960s building was burnt down

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who struggle to recognise their own gifts

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who ask “how can we do effective Christian presencing?”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who dance with their daughters at the civic hall

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who minister at the micro-breweries and snooker clubs

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the church members who leave their seats to go and sit with visitors

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the ministers who know that this act was the best thing about Sunday

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who deliver Fray Bentos pies to Food Banks

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those tired of hearing the word, “capacity”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who long for Diocesan officials to come and wander around the parish for a day; visiting the local cafes, listening to the local community

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the Diocesan officials who do just that

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who recognise the importance of humility

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who are a covenant to the people

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who need to stop

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those in need of refreshing

For theirs is the kingdom of God



Pilgrimage, Spirituality, Prayer
December 16, 2016, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

This little article was written for the Confraternity of St James Facebook Page.  Please join in the discussion here!

John asked me if I would post a few thoughts on the Camino, spirituality and prayer.  Here goes – this is a bit of a ‘starter for ten’.  As life is full of Christmas busyness, this is written quickly.  It is what has come straight to mind.  It would be good to have your thoughts on this too, to get some combined wisdom, to have a conversation.

I can speak for myself in this.  When I go on a walking pilgrimage – and especially a long one – I am going as a Christian pilgrim (from Anglican tradition) and the pilgrimage is about praying, about walking through a landscape (is it always a sacred landscape? Do the feet of pilgrims make it so?) to a sacred place.

For me, walking and praying fit together well.  I like walking alone or with quiet friends.  Getting away from routine gives me space to be with God.  The rhythm of walking and breathing leads me into prayer, quietens my mind.  In those hard times and hard sections I offer intercession.  There is a sense of outer journey and inner journey somehow combining.  Of course, I cannot demand or expect that any inner journey or encounter with God will take place, but pilgrimage seems to me a good way of putting ourselves in a good place for this.  And then, of course, there is the challenge of saying yes.

There is something very important too in the encounters we have along the way.  The Churches and communities we worship and pray with, encounters with individuals “Hug the Saint for me”.  I know I do not want to carry more weight in my rucksack, but there is always more room for people to pray for.  The Bible passages I hear along the way are deeply meditated upon.

Pilgrim routes are not about cherry picking the best landscape.  They go through it all.  On my recent pilgrimage through Wales, I spent time walking past the Port Talbot Steelworks, praying for its uncertain future.  In Spain, there is all the legacy of the Civil War, or all the fascist and anti-fascist graffiti around immigration.

I encounter other pilgrims.  This can be a blessing, opening my horizons.  A full albergue can also be a real School of Charity when we are all exhausted.  There is the great joy of an international meal, wine or beer flowing, deep things being spoken and unspoken in several languages.

I come up against myself, the bits I like, the bits that are unloveable.  I come up against my limitations as well as the times I surpass them.  A friend asked me yesterday what I had learned from the Cistercian Way, how had God spoken to me?  My immediate response is that the most profound part, and the part which will most affect my life and ministry as I travel on, was four weeks in the middle where I sat with my leg up nursing a knee ligament injury.  Much here about weakness, vulnerability, brokenness to carry forward.

I am taught simplicity – I am carrying as little as I can, I live a simple routine.

But most of all, it is a journey into trust and love.

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I would like to ask too what books or articles you have found most helpful on this?

If you don’t mind a little self-promotion, I have an article on my blog reflecting on the Camino de Levante

https://pilgrimpace.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/the-walking-becomes-the-praying-2/

If you read recent blog posts, there are series on my recent pilgrimage along The Cistercian Way: On Becoming a (More) Broken Pilgrim.



update

I hope it’s OK to keep updating you on knee progress.

It is improving a lot.  I walked three miles today with Bharti to go for dinner.  It hurts less than two out of ten.  It feels a bit ‘loose’ inside, but that walking has not made it hurt any more.  I will tentatively go for a country walk of a few miles tomorrow and see how it goes. If I don’t obviously make it worse, I will be walking the final section of The Cistercian Way in a fortnight with a light pack.

These last couple of weeks have been tough.  It’s not what I was planning or expecting.  I have mostly been at peace with it, am living and exploring this broken pilgrimage as deeply as I can, but there have been some tough, dark days.  I am glad to be well enough to be outside exercising gently now.

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It’s been good to have a chance to read and think and pray.  I’ve been reading a lot about the Cistercian way of life and spirituality.  There’s a lot to reflect on about how this can nourish my life and ministry in the same way that the Carmelite and Franciscan mystics do.  I’ve had space to begin some new poems.

I wrote this posting on the Camino de Santiago Forum a few days ago:

I am supposed to be in the middle of walking The Cistercian Way, a 700 mile pilgrimage around Wales. As always when I set off on a long pilgrimage I promised that I would only stop for two reasons: an emergency call from home or a medical professional telling me to stop.

After 10 days I started getting very bad knee pain. Fortunately I was staying at a monastery and two sisters who were trained nurses looked at it and told me to stop walking. (Also my good friend @Bradypus was nearby and arrived with icepacks, painkillers and a bottle of tinto).

I got the train home the next day. An x ray has been clear and the doctor advised me to rest it for a couple of weeks and then to see if I could gently get back into walking.

It’s been a little over two weeks now. The pain is mostly gone and I am able to do normal day to day activity. Next week I will see about some short walks. If that is OK, I will do some day walks the week after.
If that goes well I will rejoin my route towards the end of it (I will be doing a talk at Tintern Abbey anyway on October 18th) and finish it with a very light pack.

I have been at peace with all this. The pilgrimage has taken me in a different direction from the one I had expected, and I have had a huge amount of space to reflect, read and pray all this.

What I am trying to say in all this is sometimes on Camino an injury means you have to stop. This is not necessarily the end of the pilgrimage or of the journey. It’s hard, but see where it leads.

There have been some lovely insightful responses, really helping me to think what this all means and how to respond well to it.  If you think of anything, please let me know.

I’m keeping you and all those who have asked in my prayers,

Andy



making sense

“Suddenly being here made sense, a sense that couldn’t be explained; on the contrary, it was part of this sense that it musn’t be violated by trying to capture it in words.”

-Pascal Mercier Night Train to Lisbon

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I find more and more that all reading takes on the quality of lectio divina, becomes slow and life-giving.



armchair pilgrim

Margaret reminded me of this excellent story from the Winter Pilgrim Blog about a pilgrim who never leaves home.  This is wonderful to think of in my enforced rest.

My knee is improving.  I am getting out for short walks to the shops.  I am hopeful that I will be able to pick up the end of the Cistercian Way in two and a half weeks.

I am reflecting on all this.  I think something around ‘On Being a (More) Broken Pilgrim‘ is right.  Thinking a lot about weakness, brokenness, vulnerability; how this all connects deep into the heart of Christian faith and estate churches as well as this few weeks of my own journey.

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I spent a lot of time looking out of this window at Caldey.  The time in the very early mornings as the light began to come was very important.