The other week I went on an eight mile walk and my word, did my muscles know it the following few days! And so I had great admiration for the group of walkers who visited our church one Sunday recently. They had just completed a walk of around 15 miles from Uckfield. But these weren’t just any old walkers. They were on a pilgrimage. There were about 50 members of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton Ecumenical Walking Pilgrimages group and they were on their annual pilgrimage walking from church to church and praying as they went and sharing their thoughts and spiritual journeys. This year’s main event has been from 15th to 30th August and was from Chertsey in the north of the diocese to Arundel, and followed a winding route via as many churches as possible. They have been running these ecumenical pilgrimages since 1975 (www.thepilgrims.org.uk). They stop at pubs for lunch and sleep on the floors of churches, schools or community halls. Each day’s walk is about 15 miles, thus my admiration increases as the ages of the pilgrims was wide with some considerably older than myself! It was lovely to welcome them and share a little of what we are as a church. We prayed together and they went on their way to the next stage of their journey. Pilgrimage is an interesting concept. It is about a journey which has spiritual benefit or meaning, and is not specifically Christian in its general sense. Traditionally there are some routes which are popular such as Chichester to Canterbury. On the Continent the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela over the Pyrenees is a well known Pilgrimage route. It is possible to make an individual one with just your own thoughts for company or else in the presence of like minded companions, as in this case. Destinations can be special sites of spiritual interest, like Stonehenge, or of religious meaning, like Canterbury or Walsingham, but can also be personal, like the site of a particular event in your life or of personal significance. Along the way we can reflect upon our lives and what has brought us to this point. Without the distractions of the daily routine we may find all kinds of debris floating to the surface and as we travel on can help us deal with them. At the destination it can be a place of resolution for the issues encountered and perhaps lighten our load as we return back into the normal routine of living. So what would be your Pilgrimage? What would be your destination and are you ready to meet the issues that you would meet within yourself? Where are those walking boots?
Vicar of hellingly and upper dicker