Pilgrimpace's Blog

something understood: pilgrimage
April 25, 2018, 6:46 am
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This BBC Radio 4 Programme is well worth listening if you can:



Dr Rowan Williams, the Master of Magdalene College Cambridge, sets out to discover the true meaning and purpose of pilgrimage. He reveals that it’s not so much a physical journey, but more of an internal searchwhich realises the destination was not so far from where we started.

Rowan explains, “Pilgrimage prepares us for death simply by reminding us that we are not, to quote one of Iris Murdoch’s novels, “that buzzing, blooming confusion” we carry around with us, the anxious, ambitious, defensive, greedy self we have constructed, which panics at the idea of loss or helplessness. We are held in a patient and generous truth, new every moment. We can dismiss the worrying over whether we deserve love or peace or homecoming. We are already there.”

In the company of John Bunyan’s Christian, we travel through Jerusalem and Santiago accompanied by a 14th Century English writer from Nottinghamshire, Walter Hilton, and the insights of TS Eliot and the Muslim poet Rumi. Music from Maddy Prior, Monteverdi and Wagner assist our journey to its conclusion, with another of Bunyan’s heroes, Mr Valiant-for-Truth, as he is summoned to cross the river.

April 8, 2016, 7:14 am
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Holy people make you feel better than you are. Good people make you feel worse than you are.

Rowan Williams

IMGP0730There’s a definite path to walk here …

teresa conference – 2

My favourite talks in pictorial form (photos pinched from teresaofavila.org):


Iain Matthew


Rowan Williams

Gillian Ahlgren

Gillian Ahlgren

S Mary of Joseph

S Mary of Joseph

S Philomena

S Philomena

and an entirely self-promoting photo of this blogger in full flow:



I’m lucky enough to have a few weeks of Study Leave early next year which will fall into two parts. There  will be a pilgrimage and retreat with a group of friends to Santiago for a week or so.

During the rest of the time I will be doing some reading and thinking and writing about the Spanish Carmelite Mystics – Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross – specifically looking at why they speak to me so much in my context as a parish priest in urban areas of deprivation.

Can anyone suggest anything I ought to read around this?  There are obviously the works of John and Teresa.  Ken Leech and Rowan Williams have touched on this.  I really enjoy Peter Tyler’s books on the Carmelites.  Anyone else?  Particularly any women’s perspectives?

If anyone has any thoughts, comments or suggestions, I would be extremely grateful.

advent calendar
December 2, 2012, 7:45 pm
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He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.
He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

– Rowan Williams

from my front door
June 10, 2011, 9:07 pm
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A week of some difficulty (reflections on the closure of St Gabriel’s Day Care Centre later – and also Archbishop Rowan’s good thoughts on the government’s cuts – will come when there is time) brought to a good end with half an hour watching Canal Walks which covered the length of the Birmingham and Worcester Canal.  If I leave my front door, cross two roads and take a path between houses, I climb onto the Stratford upon Avon Canal.  If I turn right and walk along the tow path for half a mile I come to Kings Norton Junction where it meets the Birmingham and Worcester.  I often use it to walk or cycle into the city centre or points in between.  I hadn’t thought of walking to or from Worcester, but I can feel a thirty miler coming up.  Anyone up for this?

These photos are not from my front door – you have to stretch your legs:

May 2, 2011, 2:44 pm
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This wonderful quote from Rowan Williams’ book Resurrection came in an Easter card from my friends the Sisters of the Community of St John the Divine:

We are called to live the power of the resurrection, to ‘actualize’ the risen Christ in his power to forgive, restore and transform human lives and situations.  To live in the fullness of Christ means that we are part of the energy that makes ‘all things new’; part of the energy that pours itself out in compassion on a wounded and unforgiving world; that refuses to be a part of the negative and destructive forces that surround us day by day.  It means, rather, that we make conscious decisions to ‘live and move and have our being’ in the renewing, life-giving and peace-making power of God manifest in Christ in the events of Easter.