April 2016

Travelling on your own in company

I am writing this in the week leading up to Holy Week, that extraordinary roller-coaster of emotions that we experience every year, when we travel the pilgrimage to Easter. In doing so, we discover all manner of things about ourselves, some of which can be very unsettling, but we are helped by the knowledge that the whole Christian community is making the same journey at the same time.

Our whole journey of faith is essentially a pilgrimage. And one of the features of pilgrimage is that, while you might undertake one on your own, you are doing so accompanied and sustained by all others who are, in their separate and individual ways, doing the same thing. I am intending in my retirement - or earlier if I can wangle a sabbatical - to undertake the pilgrimage to Santiago in Spain, and, being a fundamentally antisocial person, I intend to do it on my own. But I will be travelling along a well-trodden pilgrimage route, and there will inevitably be others doing the same thing as me and equally inevitably that we will be supporting each other spiritually and, if needs be, physically on the way. (You always end up meeting more people if you travel on your own.)

There is a pilgrimage that takes place here every two years, which starts in the opulent splendour of the remains of the Cistercian abbey at Abbeydore and ends up in the austere and remote setting of Craswall Priory. That in itself is a reminder that the only way in which we can truly follow Christ is to take ourselves out of our comfort zone. The pilgrimage this year is on Saturday May 28th. It will begin with prayers in Dore Abbey at 9.15am, and will then move to Newton Church. This is hugely appropriate as the church is only there because John Powell of Newton was prepared in the mid eighteenth century to walk to St David’s to ask the Bishop for permission to build a church. It is only there because of one man’s pilgrimage. After lunch at the Bridge Inn, we will then spend a short time in Michaelchurch Church before the long climb to Craswall with a brief rest at Craswall Church before the short final leg to the Priory, where we will celebrate Evensong.

The leader of the pilgrimage will the Dean of Hereford, the Very Revd Michael Tavinor.

I do hope that people will want to take part in this. If they feel they can only manage a section of the walk, that is, of course, fine. We will, as far as is possible, be travelling together, but it is also a tremendous opportunity for us at the same time to make our own journey.

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