Time to unveil the Google map of my route! I’ve been learning this as I go – a bit like the pilgrimage itself I guess.. Anyway, I’ve tried to put the main points on there and drawn a line which approximates to the bits I plan to walk.
The Pilgrimage for Peace and Economic Justice is walking from Iona to London at the same time as me but in the opposite direction. Hope we bump into each other, but not literally!
Less than a week to go now and I am feeling some trepidation. To leave behind my wife, home and friends, work routines and support systems for 2 months is fairly radical. Of course I knew this all along but as the start date of 1st July approaches I find myself feeling quite unprepared. A bit daunted too, in truth. But even if I did somehow have the illusion of feeling prepared, it is still a big enterprise.
Other than a couple of items I have most of the kit I need for the journey. Some good boots and a waterproof jacket, an excellent backpack and sleeping bag kindly loaned by Brother Vaughan. And thanks to my friend from Phoenix Housing Penny Quinton I have a wonderful Hennessy Hammock to sleep in.
Something about the idea of going with just the clothes I am wearing appeals. Didn’t Jesus send the disciples out telling them to take only the absolute minimum and to trust God for the rest? And when the early Celtic monks and saints set out on their voyages they considered their lives as offerings, giving up all their rights and self sufficiency and praying that the Lord would guide them where He wanted them to go. And I also consciously making the decision to give up my (illusory) self sufficiency on this pilgrimage.
But I am going to need a phone and maps and other essential paraphernalia. I’m not exactly Bear Grylls after all.. And I do have a not-very-cunning plan on the route, you might be pleased to hear. At least I know the starting point – my front door – and end point – Iona – and a few of the places in between!
On Monday, ready or not, rain or shine, I will set off walking along the Thames Path to Oxford.
Hopefully by the end of the first day I’ll have reached The Community of the Sisters of the Church at Ham Common where hospitality is offered. Amongst those who live in the community are some who are in Home Office limbo, without recourse to state support or public funds. Housing Justice is involved in developing better accommodation and support for people facing this difficult situation, especially through London Hosting, with colleagues from Praxis, Spare Room, the Catholic Worker and others.
Much of my 9 weeks on the road and on the street is lightly sketched, for the reasons already outlined. But among the places I hope to visit, if the winds are fair, are Hillfields, St David’s, Whitby and Holy Island. Hitch hiking is maybe the modern equivalent of setting out in a little leather coracle – my way of trusting the Lord to lead me where he wants me to be. If it doesn’t go well, of course, I could end up stuck at a Service Station in deepest Wiltshire.
Join me in the adventure by checking back with this blog now and again. And if you are a believer don’t forget to pray for me! Especially that I don’t get stuck at the service station. Thank you
With thanks to my friend Corin, here is a good thought about the austerities of pilgrimage
July 1st is now less than a fortnight away, so I’m starting to feel excited about this thing l’ll be doing. This what is it? This pilgrimage. This retreat. This walkabout. This time on the road and on the street.
Most people I’ve spoken to about the plan have understood what it’s about. In fact a few have said they would like to join me! My Franciscan friend Brother Vaughan has offered to walk the first day with me, out of London. I think I am going to take him up on that. He is also the one who is lending me one of his backpacks. He has 3! He does a lot of walking, including the Camino to Santiago de Compostella.
I’m experimenting with writing this on the blackberry, to find out if it will work while I am out on the road, but it doesn’t work so well. I may have to find the use of computer at a internet cafe or day centre as I go.
I will post again a bit later as its a bit of a palaver on the blackberry..