Tag Archives: pilgrim
Our L’Arche pilgrimage was like winding a section of Blake’s golden string, only those of us at the back of the group were following arrows chalked on the pavement by the frontrunners. What ten-year-old would not enjoy the chance to draw graffiti without getting into trouble?
In Dover I ended up walking with D, who may be slow, but speeds up to slow ahead when someone holds his hand. Having a banner to carry also helped him along.
Now D does not speak, though he has a vocabulary in Makaton signs (which I must learn again, not having used them for forty years). We were walking beside the River Dour in Dover when a duck started berating us. So I quacked back. D began to laugh, so I quacked even more. So did the duck.
Then D began making little grunts in time with my quacks. He’d got the joke and joined in. We were both still smiling when a few people caught up with us and mentioned lunch. At which point D’s feet found wings!
I think I passed through Jerusalem’s wall that morning.
Tobias and the Angel, Gaspar de Crayar, public domain
We can see the Angel’s wings, but of course Tobias cannot! The dog is already enjoying fresh fish!
The dog followed Tobias and Sarah and the Angel Raphael over the mountains, through the desert, across the river and back to Tobias’s home town.
There were no phones to say they were on the way, so Tobias and company got home before any letter would have arrived. And his parents, Anna and Tobit, were worried, because he had been away so long.
As the travellers drew near home, the dog, who had been with them across the river, through the desert and over the mountains. And then back over the mountains, through the desert, and across the river, could see and smell where he was.
Now the dog ran in front and came home, ‘like one who had news to tell, wagging his tail for joy.’Anna knew that
the dog was faithful to Tobias cried for joy because if the dog was home, so must be Tobias. She ran out and hugged Tobias. He went in and spread the gall of the fish on his father’s eyes just as Raphael told him to, and Tobit could see again, just in time to welcome Sarah into the family. This time the party lasted for a whole week!
Early home tonight, and our barbecue party tomorrow. We won’t have to go across the river, through the desert and over the mountains. And then back over the mountains, through the desert, and across the river. We have slept in our own beds every night. But maybe we have opened our eyes and our ears to each other as we have walked through the Garden of England. Let’s pray that our feet will last another day, and get us to Canterbury, safe and sound.
Part 2 of our gallop through the Book of Tobit. We did not have time to examine all Sarah’s past troubles, so we made no mention of them at all.
The dog followed Tobias and the Angel across the river, through the desert and over the mountains, all the way to Tobit’s Cousin Raguel’s house. When they got there, Tobias fell in love with Raguel’s daughter Sarah, and straightaway they got married! Of course there was a big party, and no doubt the dog was busy scrounging scraps all the while, especially because the party went on for two weeks!
The dog must have been quite fat when Tobias set off for home with Raphael, the dog, all Tobit’s money and a big surprise for his parents: Sarah, his new wife. They went over the mountains, through the desert, across the river and back to Tobias’s home town.
I can imagine how tired Tobias was, with two weeks of partying on top of walking across the river, through the desert and over the mountains. And now he has to do it all over again, with Sarah, and the fish’s gall, and the money, and the wedding presents on the back of the donkeys from her dad. It’s a good job he has the dog and Raphael, to go over the mountains, through the desert and across the river till they get home.
We are made to enjoy life on earth as in heaven. We are meant to enjoy it together with our family and friends and so this walk we are on is a good idea, and we don’t have to go across the river, through the desert and over the mountains. But we are walking through Kent, the Garden of England – aren’t we blessed! And aren’t we blessed to have Tyndale the terrier with us!
Basil, above, was Sam the dog’s sidekick.
It’s been a few years since I made any art work for church, unless I count some of the photographs in this blog, at least as they have been adjusted to run alongside the texts. A few of my banners I felt happy with, but this pilgrimage has opened my eyes to real artists working together as a team. So it has been a pleasure to work with our three designers to produce works that we hope will make the pilgrimage more enjoyable and prayerful.
Antonela and Zsombor, who come from Romania and Hungary respectively, understand design techniques and work well with computers, but they are also true artists. And they make a good team. Run-of-the-mill photos when transformed by an artist’s hand have become lovely paintings. It’s a shame that they will be reproduced so small, as we are using the images as stickers to go in the pilgrim’s passport that will be issued each one. Another designer, Ines, comes from Portugal, and has produced very different illustrations. We are blessed to have such talented people – and the opportunity to use their talents in this way. We’ll share some of their pictures later. In the meantime here is a touch of creativity from last year: a beach hut disguised as a camper van. I hope the owners enjoy it even more than we pilgrims did, and don’t take it for granted.
Nothing asked of them was impossible, let’s hope the walk is not impossible either!
Best foot forward! May we not take our home town for granted, but see it anew when we arrive back in Canterbury.
First stop today is the church of the Holy Innocents in Adisham. Did memories of those Vikings from the dragon boats figure large when they chose the name? These evangelists are in the church. We will have a picnic on the Downs in sight of the wind turbines, and finally make for Patrixbourne, and the lovely Swiss-German window that we saw before. (I only learnt it was Swiss on Friday!).
As well as our Scripture readings I have chosen a verse for each day to help our prayer.
Day 1 began at Dover Beach, with this prayer for a blessing on our feet. It comes from our old friend Fr Andrew.
O dearest Lord, thy sacred feet
with nails were pierced for me;
O pour thy blessing on my feet
that they may follow thee.
Father Andrew SDC
Day 2 led us not through desert but through England’s green and pleasant Land, though we had our dark Satanic mills in the shape of the coal mines at Betteshanger, Tilmanstone and Snowdown, all close by, not to mention the unsuccessful ones we went by yesterday. This verse is from the war poet, Robert Graves.
May we speak words of grace today, as our late friend and miner George did. Today’s walk ends in his home village of Aylesham.
Christ of His gentleness
Thirsting and hungering,
Walked in the wilderness;
Soft words of grace He spoke
Unto lost desert-folk
That listened wondering.
A short walk, nearly all downhill, brings us to Barfrestone, a tiny village where L’Arche Kent began life 40-odd years ago. The village church, with its curious carvings of musical canines, is some 800 years older than that. We then tack across country to the miner’s village of Aylesham, walking over the top of the coal fields and taking a breather at St Mary’s church Nonnington.
We will have prayers at the beginning and end of each day’s walk, and at least one station where we can pray in a church or open space on our way. (To make this happen means contacting churchwardens or priests: preparation, administration is a ministry in itself, so long as it keeps sight of the goal.)
Even spontaneous prayer requires some preparation! A choice of readings – excerpts from Luke’s account of the disciples on the way to Emmaus for morning and evening, while the two good dogs in the Bible, Tobias’s terrier and the one who snaffled snacks from Jesus’ table, will feature at the station prayers.
One of our stations, at Patrixbourne, has a window with a dog approaching the manger at Bethlehem. It so happened that before this station was confirmed I had chosen this verse for the day’s prayer.
It is not strange that one blest night
Should shine a star exceedingly bright
To lead three Kings upon their way
To Bethlehem, where Jesu lay,
All lowly, cradled in the hay –
Their journey’s happy ending!
Father Andrew SDC
When Abel and I were checking out the third and fourth days’ walks by bike, we were glad to find the window just right for a photograph. We can recite this verse before the window as part of our prayer for the day: after we leave Saint Mary’s it will be a short walk to the sports pavilion where we will celebrate our journey’s happy ending, till tomorrow.
Those who are preparing the pilgrimage keep telling ourselves: it’s all coming together!
There was, when I wrote this,still a month before the pilgrims put foot to footpath which was just as well. Catering, comfort breaks, car rides for the weary, climbing up the Downs, covering the route step by step; all this preparation allows the real purpose of the pilgrimage to be fulfilled. And in real life, today is the day we make that first step!
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
We are a community: part of the closer walk with Jesus is walking with each other. We know that Jesus and his disciples did a lot of walking around Palestine, and sometimes the disciples’ conversation was far from edifying. Jesus had to rebuke Mrs Zebedee when she wanted him to give James and John top posts in his new government, and to remind the disciples – who had been arguing on the road about who was the greatest – that the greatest of all must be the servant of all.
No wonder he was glad to play with the children at the end of the day!
There will be many opportunities for each of us to serve our fellow walkers during our four days on the road. This time of preparation has been itself a time of service.
We hope to say more about the pilgrimage itself in the days to come.