Edited by Lynne Ling

Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage by Lynne Ling

[aesop_character img=”http://www.shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Lynne.png” caption=”Lynne Ling” align=”right”]

Introduction

Welcome to our fourth issue of Editions, created to complement the conversation packs we will be producing at regular intervals over the next few years.

Stephen Wright, who wrote for the last Edition about journeying spiritually with his grandchildren, this time turns his attention to pilgrim journeys he has taken and people he has met.

Sarah Friswell works in a cathedral which seeks to welcome visitors as modern-day pilgrims and meet their needs in a spirit of Benedictine hospitality.

Elizabeth Rundle takes us on an armchair pilgrimage around the Holy Land, where the stories of the Old and New Testaments come to life.

Paul Heppleston leads small groups of travellers to remote places and here reflects for us on the spiritual challenges and delights of being ‘away from it all’.

Paul’s article includes the sentence: ‘Every journey calls us to leave home-base and venture out into what may be the unknown, returning home with a renewed perspective on life and on the place where we started.’

We hope that the material in this magazine, together with the Pilgrimage conversation pack and the website www.lentpilgrimage.org.uk will nurture in you a desire not only to travel to new places geographically, but also to be willing to face up to places outside your comfort zone in every aspect of life, ready to learn and to grow in faith, wisdom and understanding as a life-long journey.

Lynne Ling

Editor


Note: Scroll down to read this issue of Editions. This is designed to display best on a tablet device or laptop, and a page turner version is also available here, but a hard copy of this beautiful A3 publication, printed on high quality paper, can also be purchased from our shop for only £5.00 + p&p.


[aesop_chapter title=”Pilgrimage isn’t just for the holy” subtitle=”Stephen Wright shares insights from pilgrimages he has undertaken in beautiful landscapes and industrial wastelands” bgtype=”img” full=”on” img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/shutterstock_20468710.jpg” bgcolor=”#888888″ revealfx=”off”]

 

 

 

My first (forced) pilgrimage was at school – made to read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The elements of the classic pilgrimage (Latin ‘peregrinus’ – stranger or wanderer) are found therein; groups or individuals journeying to a religious shrine in search of healing or spiritual guidance. The film ‘The Way’ exemplifies the contemporary combination of a tough physical journey, prayer and worship, encounters with persons and places, all of which challenge us inwardly, shaking and shifting our perceptions of self, others, faith and God.

Pilgrimage of all sorts, long or short, has become hugely popular again. Well-known, traditional routes like that to Santiago de Compostela (requiring resources and ability to walk many hundreds of miles) contrasts with the trend toward self-created routes. Almost invariably ‘walked’ (feet on the ground seems to aid the shift of consciousness) I have recently met people going from Durham Cathedral to the Angel of the North to lay a wreath, another group walking the stone circles of the Isle of Lewis, yet another following ley lines to Glastonbury Tor.

It’s not just the journey that matters, but the consciousness with which we do so. If we travel to any sacred site to marvel, photograph and gather facts we will have a very different experience than a reverent approach seeking to deepen our relationship in God. As the former we are mere tourists, the latter true pilgrims.

[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#183f55″ text=”#ffffff” align=”center” size=”2″ img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/iStock_000021475613_Large_DARK.jpg” quote=”“can we also find God in the people we meet along the way who challenge us, in places that are not glorious or in the detritus in the street?”” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]

 

 

 

 

A couple of years ago I pilgrimaged from Iona to Glasgow. Over 13 days and 155 miles I passed through bucolic idyll and industrial wasteland, stayed in nurturing B&B’s and some rubbish ones, traversed mountain and valley, sailed across ocean and loch and tramped through bog and along city streets. I met folks of all sorts of along the way, had conversations rich or shallow, and was often asked “Why Iona to Glasgow? Surely it should be the other way round?”  Such judgements create dualism; God in this place but not in that place.

Lately pilgrimaging around Cumbria, creating a circuit connecting the Mungo/Kentigern churches around the Northern Fells, I found myself again questioning the notion of some places as sacred, others not. Certainly it can seem easier to see God in beautiful landscapes or loving encounters.  But can we also find God in the people we meet along the way who challenge us, in places that are not glorious or in the detritus in the street?

As I have grown older I have come to appreciate that the sacred is everywhere. There is nowhere that God is not. Perhaps that is one of the ‘products’ of pilgrimage – an evolution of consciousness, of realisation that it’s not about where we are in place and time, but our awareness of God wherever and whenever that matters. Thus, we do not necessarily have to endure some arduous journey over great distances and at great cost (in many senses) – even the thought of that can put people off. Pilgrimage isn’t just for the ‘holy’ or those who feel the need to struggle. A short walk to church, the effort to find time and place at home to meditate, walking the labyrinth of our interior realm as well as a labyrinthine journey in physical reality; this everyday interplay of one with the other that creates transformation in our relationship with self, the world, God is perhaps the essence of pilgrimage.

[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#282828″ text=”#ffffff” height=”250″ align=”center” size=”3″ img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/shutterstock_20468710.jpg” quote=”“pilgrimage stretches us at every level, physical, psychological, spiritual…”” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]

 

We do not have to suffer on pilgrimage – to travel half the way on our knees or stretch our bodies beyond limits. The thought that we only gain something if it hurts is suspect. The consciousness with which we approach pilgrimage – the surrender of the will, the intention, the desire to make the effort – is of equal if not greater importance.

It’s not so much where we pilgrimage, but that we pilgrimage. Through prayer and effort in faith, working through scripture, opening to the guidance of spirit, all these and more, we come to know that the sacred we seek is within. The outer journey however long or short paradoxically takes us deeper inwards. The place to which we pilgrimage and encounter God most readily is in that “inner chamber” to which Jesus pointed (Matthew 6:6).

Pilgrimage stretches us at every level, physical, psychological, spiritual. That’s what pilgrimage does to us, yes does to us. Although we do all the walking and organising, it may become clear to us that it was not so much that we take a pilgrimage, but that pilgrimage takes us. On my own journeys I realised I had not so much sought God, but that God had sought me.

[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#78142f” text=”#ffffff” height=”250″ align=”center” size=”2″ img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/iStock_000021475613_Large_DARK.jpg” quote=”“if we travel to any sacred site to marvel, photograph and gather facts we will have a very different experience than a reverent approach seeking to deepen our relationship in God”” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Wright is an ordained interfaith minister and member of the Iona Community living in Cumbria. He works as a spiritual director for the Sacred Space Foundation.

The Sacred Space Foundation,
Fell End, Mungrisdale,
Cumbria CA11 0XR
t: 01768 77983
w: www.sacredspace.org.uk
e: jeannie@sacredspace.org.uk


 

[aesop_chapter title=”Heritage & Hospitality” subtitle=” Sarah Friswell considers what our heritage sites can offer the modern day pilgrim” bgtype=”img” full=”on” img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/StEdCath-40.jpg” bgcolor=”#888888″ revealfx=”off”]

When I first came to work at St Edmundsbury Cathedral I quickly learned that the context in which I would be working had grown out of the Benedictine heritage, with the Abbey of St Edmund being a major centre of pilgrimage in medieval England. Welcome therefore was and is paramount and the ‘right’ sort of welcome – a Christ-like welcome for all – imperative.

More recently, I have taken on the role of volunteer Chair of the Methodist Heritage Committee. The Methodist understanding of heritage is not so much to do with history as it is with the intentional mission opportunity that our heritage provides. Why are our chapels ordered as they are – often with the pulpit central? Why do most people think that all Methodists are teetotal? Being engaged in Methodist heritage is about using those distinctly Methodist ideologies or practices to tell others of our faith and to encourage them to explore faith issues themselves.

[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#282828″ text=”#ffffff” width=”100%” height=”450″ align=”center” size=”3″ img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/St-Edmunds-walkers_DARK.jpg” quote=”“my experiences have led me to the belief that people who visit churches are potential pilgrims…”” parallax=”off” direction=”right” revealfx=”off”]

 

 

A recent response recorded in the visitors’ book at Englesea Brook Chapel and Museum of Primitive Methodism indicates the importance of what is being done: “A very special place to learn about our Methodist heritage. Thanks for a warm welcome.” And those offering welcome are affected too. A volunteer on duty at City of Edinburgh Methodist Church for an open day commented: “It was absolutely fascinating to have people genuinely curious and opening up about themselves and their concerns.”

My experiences over the last few years have led me to the belief that in fact people who visit churches are potential pilgrims. Those of us in the church need to provide an authentic and transformational experience for them – even if the visitors themselves would never call their visit a pilgrimage.

In the mid 1990s a review of the work of cathedrals was undertaken and published in a report called Heritage and Renewal, in which it states:

For all its potential dangers, mass tourism and travel ought to be welcomed as often powerful means of opening closed minds. Any church interested in ministry and mission cannot but be interested in all kinds of people on the move, and be willing to face the reality that people inevitably affect places.

So are modern day tourists exactly the same as medieval pilgrims? There are similarities.

[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#282828″ text=”#ffffff” align=”center” size=”3″ img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/StEdCath-40_DARK.jpg” quote=”“welcome is paramount and the ‘right’ sort of welcome – a Christ-like welcome for all – imperative”” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]

 

 

 

In medieval times, the popularity of a shrine or sacred site depended on the number of saintly miracles attributed. Popularity is still a key feature today. The honey pots attract huge numbers, whereas smaller lesser known places often struggle to get noticed. Nowadays we use modern media to promote ourselves and win new and repeat visitors. Even in medieval times your loyalty to a shrine counted, meaning less time in purgatory.

Tourists love a good cup of tea and somewhere to buy a small gift of their visit (their modern day equivalent of a pilgrim’s badge) – just the same as a medieval pilgrim. We need to meet their needs, in a spirit of Benedictine hospitality.
Of course there are differences. Today we get in our cars, coaches and trains and travel at speed. The medieval pilgrim used his feet, at best a horse, and made a time consuming commitment to go on pilgrimage.

Many of our visitors say that they believe in God but yet don’t attend church. We hear a lot about spiritual ‘searching’. Pilgrimages to the traditional sites (or indeed to new ones) or to mark anniversaries seem to be very popular. They provide a valid expression of pilgrimage – journey, companionship on the road, interaction with communities and a personally life-changing experience. If you add in factors such as the health benefits of walking, it begins to look very attractive as a way to spend some ‘quality’ time.
The popularity of pilgrimage is growing – it’s on the TV, there are books on the topic and the word is used in secular as well as sacred settings. I believe the potential to awaken spiritual journeying in our secular world is there and the church needs to grasp this opportunity. We are all on a journey – life’s pilgrimage – and the places we go, people we meet, conversations we have enrich us immeasurably on the way. Pilgrimage provides a way of bringing the sacred and secular together.

 

[aesop_content color=”#ffffff” background=”#333333″ columns=”1″ position=”none” innerposition=”0px,0px,0px,300px” img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/DSC_0299.jpg” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” imgposition=”top” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up” revealfx=”inplaceslow”]Sarah Friswell is PR, Pilgrimage and Visits Manager of St Edmundsbury Cathedral and Chair of the Methodist Heritage Committee (www.methodistheritage.org.uk)

The Cathedral Office Abbey House, Angel Hill Bury St Edmunds Suffolk IP33 1LS

t: 01284 748726 w: www.stedscathedral.co.uk

e: pr.manager@stedscathedral.org

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[aesop_chapter title=”In the footsteps of Jesus” subtitle=”Elizabeth Rundle, a Methodist minister who has accompanied pilgrims to Israel/Palestine regularly over the last 26 years, shares some of the highlights of her visits” bgtype=”img” full=”on” img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/iStock_000012308432_Large.jpg” bgcolor=”#888888″ revealfx=”off”]

 

Pilgrimage, what’s that, you ask? So different from a holiday in that a pilgrimage seeks to engage spiritually at particular places. These moments of inspiration enable ancient scriptures to break into contemporary lives with an immediacy and relevance to excite and challenge. Pilgrimage gives an opportunity to engage in the rhythms of prayer at each holy site, to acknowledge the praise and reverence of unfamiliar languages, and open ourselves to shared Christian faith.

Why might I go? In the fourth century AD Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, wrote: “Others only hear but we both see and touch”. And it’s this search to see for ourselves and to touch the stones which has led millions of Christian pilgrims from all over the world in search of the ‘thin places’; those moments when the reality of God’s presence becomes overwhelming.

In The Holy Land, past, present and future fuse together as nowhere else in the world. Remember when Jesus drove the merchants out of the Temple (Mark 10:15-16) he reiterated the words of the great prophet Isaiah (56:7): “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations”? Travelling in the Holy Land today, the first thing to strike the senses is that it truly feels that all nations are present. Gentle songs in Portuguese drifting over the Sea of Galilee, Korean prayers rising on the Mount of Olives, vibrant African costumes swirling through the streets of Old Jerusalem – it echoes Acts 2:1: they were all together in one place!

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Whatever the time of year, strains of “While shepherds watched their flocks by night” can be heard in the Shepherds’ Fields. Looking up the hill towards Bethlehem, the pilgrim gazes at fields resonant in Old Testament stories: Naomi, Ruth and Boaz; the boy David composing his psalms while guarding his father’s sheep; and of course Joseph with the heavily pregnant Mary trudging up the hill-paths to find lodging in the town. Today’s shepherds add that touch of authenticity to a landscape where the twenty-first century impinges relentlessly on the ancient.

Moving up into Manger Square brings us to probably the oldest church in the world, the Basilica of the Nativity. Entered by a small door, the church is built over cave formations common around Bethlehem. Descend the steep, uneven stairs to the caves below the church to find the iconic Silver Star denoting the traditional site of Christ’s birth. Also in this labyrinth are the caves where Jerome spent 40 years translating the Bible from Greek to Latin. It feels like another world, the air heavy with prayer and incense.

But it was in Nazareth that Jesus spent most of his life. Although the village He knew is a bustling town, nevertheless the contours of the hills and the far-ranging vistas remain the same. In the last few years pilgrims have been able to visit The Nazareth Village, a reconstruction of life in the time of Jesus. Eating a ‘biblical meal’, watching a donkey turn the grinding stone, hearing scripture read from a scroll in the stone synagogue, time stands still.

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There remains only one water source in Nazareth, bubbling beneath St. Gabriel’s Church, but the main attraction is the three-tiered Church of the Annunciation. Here, around the walls and in the cloisters, countless countries have donated tender representations of Mary with the baby Jesus.
Jesus the man left Nazareth for Capernaum on the shore of the mesmeric Lake of Galilee. Breathing the warm air, listening to the bird-song and looking to the timeless hills, this for most pilgrims is their ‘thin place’. The churches of Mensa Christi, Tabgha and Beatitudes each hold the legacy of millions of Christians who have prayed in the places where Jesus taught. The ruins of the Capernaum Synagogue give a sense that if you turned round, Jesus would be standing next to you. And maybe the most moving moments of all are those spent in a boat, silently in the middle of the lake.

However, it’s in Jerusalem where the pilgrim experiences the pathos of the Garden of Gethsemane, the trauma of Golgotha and the Resurrection mystery of the empty tomb. From this city, the prophet Isaiah foretold: “The Law will go out from Zion, the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3). This Holy City embraces all the tragedy, pain, hope and potential of our flawed humanity. The traveller arrives as a pilgrim, but returns home a witness.

[aesop_content color=”#ffffff” background=”#333333″ columns=”1″ position=”none” img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/iStock_000012308432_Large.jpg” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up” revealfx=”off”]“Elizabeth has a great love for and understanding of the lands of the Bible. As chaplain to the first Methodist Women in Britain pilgrimage to Israel/Palestine in November 2015, she inspired the group of 34 women with her wonderful prayers and insights.” – Jill Baker, pilgrimage leader.

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[aesop_chapter title=”wild journeying as pilgrimage ” subtitle=”Paul Heppleston tells of the special insights borne of travelling to remote places, returning home with a renewed perspective on life ” bgtype=”img” full=”on” img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/iStock_000009140245_Double.jpg” bgcolor=”#888888″ revealfx=”off”]

Romantic dreams? Maybe; maybe not. Wild-ness conjures up images of a landscape untouched by mankind. To some the word is negative; to dreamers it opens up shangri-la. Truth to say, they’re hard to find these days and one needs to go to mountains, shores and deserts to find what we would understand as real wildness. But maybe there’s another interpretation where we simply see wildness in places where we can be alone, with minds uncluttered by day-to-day thoughts and concerns. ‘Wild camping permitted’ is an open invitation to go where you like, so maybe there’s also an element of freedom not found in the regimented daily routine of life. And where did Jesus go to gain refreshment? To the wild-erness.

Journeying takes one to where the destination is often less important than the actual travelling. It calls to mind TS Eliot’s well-known words from his Four Quartets  ‘…the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’. These journeys may be through a changing landscape – or even the developing circumstances of life, but what alters in the deepest sense is the heart of the traveller. The destination to which we return after our exploring will still be the same in essence; but our perception of it, our interpretation and response to it will have altered because of our having gone on the journey. It will be us who change – and if that’s disturbing, best stay where you are.

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Pilgrimage gives fulfilment for many in travelling to places of religious significance seeking a deepening of their spiritual life. Every journey calls us to leave home-base and venture out into what may be the unknown, returning home with a renewed perspective on life and on the place where we started. Those journeys can be called pilgrimages just as much as walking the Camino. Leaving one’s home-base can of course be done without getting out of your armchair but in truth it’s no easier; importantly neither is it necessarily less rewarding. As age creeps on these interior pilgrimage journeys become far more significant.

Putting those three key words together helps one to see that pilgrimage is more than a spiritual journey visiting special places. It’s about leaving one’s homeland and familiar experiences – moving to a position of dependence. Abandonment to the grace of the wind of the Spirit doesn’t mean you don’t book tickets and accommodation, but it does mean that there has to be an element of uncertainty which opens us up more to God. Occasionally, plans will fall through, and we need to weigh up the value of making the pilgrimage so totally secure that almost every eventuality is covered. Whether God likes it that way is another matter.

[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#282828″ text=”#ffffff” align=”center” size=”3″ img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/iStock_000004681440_Large.jpg” quote=”“places where we can be alone, with minds uncluttered by day-to-day thoughts and concerns…”” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]

Wild journeying makes demands to a degree far beyond that which the normal regularity of life involves, but we can taste the wholeness of life, as well as an awareness of changes that will need to be undergone at some future stage.

We are not the first, for Celtic spirituality finds God’s revelation of Himself in creation – the Celts’ second Big Book. As in Ignatian spirituality, it sees ‘God in all things’ and a wise eastern yogi wrote that: “if you can’t see God in all things, you can’t see God at all”. In wild far-from-daily-life locations with inspiring landscapes one can see things (and life) with fresh eyes. And it’s during times like this that we touch God’s creation – perhaps literally, lying on the grass of a hillside, feeling the sun’s warmth on our face, dangling hands in a tumbling mountain stream, or allowing our face to brush tree blossom.

The really hard journey is the one made from your armchair, needing discipline and strong focus. So it’s a help to realise that Jesus plays a part in this story too – pilgrimage journeying can often take us to the edge-places and it’s here, paradoxically, that one finds The Centre. There’s just one condition – that we look for Jesus, expect Him and claim His very presence. Then we will find him, at the edges of society and in the wild, untouched parts of our planet and of our minds, patiently waiting for us. He’ll look up with a smile and say: “Ah – at last; I’ve been hoping you’d come. Here, sit down”. And as he breaks a loaf you’ll realise with great clarity that, at last, you’ve found your true com-pan-ion on the journey.

[aesop_content color=”#ffffff” background=”#25214b” columns=”1″ position=”none” img=”http://shoreline-editions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/iStock_000009140245_Double_DARK.jpg” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up” revealfx=”off”]heppPaul Heppleston is a member of the Iona Community and a journey leader with Journeying, taking small groups of people to islands of Scotland and Wales. He often wonders what makes these small places so much of a draw for people.

Journeying

18 Holyland Road, Pembroke, Pembrokeshire SA71 4BL
t: 01646 279478 w: www.journeying.co.uk e: info@journeying.co.uk

See also www.wild-journeys.co.uk

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Arise Within Me

Arise within me, Holy mystery, Holy friend

keep danger near enough for the summoning of protection
keep doubt strong enough for the deepening of trust
keep despair near enough for the stirring of hope
keep darkness strong enough for the glimmering of light
keep hostility near enough for the sustaining of peace
keep fear strong enough for the arousing of love
keep greed near enough for the lavishing of generosity
keep uncertainty strong enough for the bolstering of courage
keep surprise near enough for the gifting of grace
keep chaos strong enough for the flowering of creativity
keep divinity near enough for the perfecting of humanity

Arise within me, Holy mystery, take me to hallowed ground.

Carolyn Smyth
‘Bare Feet and Buttercups’
www.iona.com

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