Synod Pilgrimage: Faith Streams – Living Waters
Tuesday May 17
Everyone is properly in pilgrimage mode now – but of course, walking between earth and heaven means that there are all sorts of practicalities to address before the journey proper begins.
Breakfast at the Centre was followed by prayers led by Mary. Then we piled into the bus to drive the few hundred yards to the supermarket, so that we could all buy lunch to take on the way. Somehow, once we’d been driven to Grasmere, it seemed to be coffee time…. And then of course it was impossible to pass through Grasmere without a visit to the ginger bread shop.
Finally we were on our way! Calling in at the church we renewed our acquaintanceship with its patron saint, Oswald, King of Northumbria. Quite what he was doing over this side of the country, founding a church at Grasmere (as Bede assures us he did) we’re not quote clear about. Maybe there’s a bit more research to be done once the pilgrimage is over.
The first half of the journey took us along the old coffin way, high above the valley, before descending to Rydal Hall. There were moments for reflection offered by Dave – such as at the first coffin stone (a resting place for tired bearers), and at the mysterious money tree, where passing pilgrims (and others surely) have been moved to hammer the odd coin or two into the decaying wood. And we should record that at this point we bumped into Darlington Methodist Chair Ruth Gee and some colleagues of hers, who were currently staying at Rydal Hall. They didn’t seem to be hammering any money into the tree either.
As we progressed, a good number of these moments seemed to focus on death and money – but living waters stream in many directions. And there was also a section of the journey where we deliberately remained quiet – lost in our own thought and prayers, while perhaps not wanting to appear unfriendly to the many people we met along the way.
As the day progressed the weather brightened, and the walk back along the far shore of Rydal Water and then Grasmere was glorious.
Stopping at a swing hanging over the open water we reflected on taking risks – a challenge in our risk assessing culture; and a little later we saw a set of stepping stones (risk free now the waters have subsided) which led to our thinking about the people whom we have relied on on our own life journeys. And have we now ways of our own of offering security and safety to others as they travel?
Back at Grasmere, much later than we might have expected, we were just thankful for all that we had seen and heard and reflected on in the course of the day. And were more than ready for the Chinese meal booked at Bowness – and the good company and conversation to accompany it through the evening.