…I intended to write some more reflections in this blog on our fortnight in Jerusalem and Bethlehem… that hasn’t happened yet, but the sights, sounds and impressions of that visit are still very much with us. As we follow the current visit there of the Archbishop of Canterbury, in some senses we share his journey.
I spent several days in the past week at Cliff College in Derbyshire with a group of 15 women. We explored together the skills, thinking and preparation needed to lead a pilgrimage, an event organised and financed by Methodist Women in Britain. Pilgrimage is, among many other things, a shared journey – even if a pilgrim walks alone there is a profound sense of all the others who have walked the same paths over years, maybe centuries. Our bible study focussed on the story of the walk to (and run from) Emmaus – a very special shared journey.
We were helped in our thinking about “Methodism and Pilgrimage” by the college’s interim principal, Rev. Dr. Stephen Skuce. He highlighted John Wesley’s remarkable travelling life and his understanding of travel not primarily as a journey from A to B, but almost as an end in itself; an expression of his understanding of life as pilgrimage. Our Methodist language of itinerancy and “years of travel” still captures something of this as the shared journey continues. Before we left we journeyed further afield in our prayers for the wider world.
Cliff College proved to be the perfect venue for our gathering; everyone appreciated the comfortable bedrooms and warm hospitality and the beautiful weather was another bonus! As individuals and in small groups, we spent Thursday afternoon outside in glorious sunshine, putting the theory into practice and preparing little pilgrimages around the grounds. There are many fascinating and beautiful sites ideal for our purposes…
It is always interesting to be part of (and to observe) a group of women coming together for a few days – some knew some others, no-one knew everyone, one woman knew no-one. Over the three days conversations took place, acceptance and love was offered, stories were offered and journeys were shared. We travelled together for a short time and then parted – enriched by the encounters and wondering when we will meet again. (Perhaps at the weekend conference on pilgrimage which I will be part of, again at Cliff College, in April next year (6-8). Watch this space for more news!)
Back in Glasgow, this evening we will hold our circuit Easter Offering service – I must find out who else is going and with whom I can share my journey tonight! Blessings on your journeys today and all those with whom you share them. Jill