30th September 2023
I’ve been fascinated with pilgrimage for many years now. I think that what excites me most about it is the promise that it holds. A little like the promise of a beautifully wrapped gift: it may contain nothing out of the ordinary but whilst the contents remain hidden it could contain anything. And until very recently, although I’d read lots about pilgrimage and watched all the documentaries and programmes I could find about it, I’d never actually experienced one myself. They always seemed out of my reach – either economically, geographically or just physically.
So, when a few months ago I saw an advert promoting a new programme of relatively short, led pilgrimages, with the first one starting just a few miles from my home, it seemed like a gift. The ideal opportunity to give pilgrimage a go.
However, the day before the event I sat in meeting for worship, somewhat regretting my decision. I worried that I’d not be up to the full 12 miles, although James – the Anglican Priest in charge of organising the pilgrimage – had said that we could choose to finish our pilgrimage at lunchtime if we didn’t feel able to walk the whole route. Also, there would be a ‘rescue’ vehicle on hand to gather up any pilgrims who found themselves unable to carry on at any point throughout the day. So there really were no excuses. A poster on the noticeboard of the meeting house caught my eye, ‘Quakers Live Adventurously’; it seemed I would be doing the pilgrimage after all.
Quakers have individual beliefs and here Marina is exploring Christianity with James, by joining with people of many faiths. - Editor
James, full of enthusiasm and fresh ideas, had managed to drum up the support of almost 100 people for that first event. Some of the walkers were his friends and family, others were members of churches across the Diocese and some, like myself, had just spotted the event on Facebook and had no ties to the church at all.