I woke up most days last week and turned on my radio to hear bad news, all involving tragic loss of life: a train crash in Italy, an attempted military coup in Turkey, carnage in Nice and shootings in the USA. All of these violent acts were in addition to the upheavals occurring in our own political system; a leadership race becomes a coronation; a leader without support from colleagues refuses to stand down even when challengers emerge; markets are in turmoil one day and booming the next. What is happening, and how do we make sense of our world?
Most of these events occurred whilst I was on a pilgrimage to Walsingham with a group from several churches in West London. We were able to spend time reflecting, and praying for all those affected in any way by current events.
Going on pilgrimage is something I would strongly recommend to the congregation at St Nick’s. John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford, describes it as follows:
“There is something quite fundamental to human well-being about travelling somewhere together. People do it for many reasons, but usually physical exercise combines with personal, intellectual and spiritual refreshment. There is a communal dimension as well as the opportunity to ponder alone.
For Christians and other believers pilgrimage is a time to be with God in order to be more fully in life. It reflects in miniature the journey we take with God from birth to death, and then on to the heavenly city. Pilgrimage is therefore an inward journey as well as an outward one. Because it’s different from normal life pilgrimage puts us somewhat off-balance, and therefore, perhaps we are more open to God.”
We are hoping to take a group from St Nick’s, joining up with a group from St Michael & All Angels, Barnes to make a pilgrimage to Walsingham next year. We have provisionally booked to travel there on Monday June 19th returning on Friday 23rd. While we are there we will stay in the accommodation at the Anglican shrine (website: http://walsinghamanglican.org.uk/welcome/index.htm).
We have breakfast and supper in the Shrine restaurant (the food is good!) and go out on visits (not compulsory) during the daytime.
If you would like to know more about what we are planning, or have any questions at all, please do ask me or Fr Simon. Numbers are limited and we shall need to have an idea of how many people are interested fairly soon.
I wish you all a good week, and hope you are able to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts!