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TO BE A PILGRIM

LABYRINTHS

Pilgrimage is a universal theme. Its roots are centuries old. Since the very first people to hear the Gospel story journeyed to Jerusalem to walk in the steps of Jesus, Christians have found spiritual insight, wisdom and healing in travelling to the places that are special to our faith.

A labyrinth is a single pathway, turning and twisting upon itself in a complex pattern to a single central point. This pattern, at once both straightforward and complex, can provide a starting point for exploring the nature of spirituality or act as an aid to prayer and a means of meditation. The most famous Christian labyrinth is that built into the floor of Chartres Cathedral in around 1194. Pilgrims were encouraged to walk this either at the end of a pilgrimage or as a substitute for the journey itself.

People have always gone on journeys to enrich their spiritual lives. The desire seems deeply ingrained in human nature. Pilgrimages nurture and sustain our inner life, our ‘sacred centre’, and such journeys can be much nearer to home than we may think. This leaflet outlines a variety of ways of making that journey and enhancing our ‘Living Faith’.

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A SIMPLE GUIDE

Pilgrim God, You are our origin and our destination. Travel with us, we pray, in every pilgrimage of faith, and every journey of the heart. Give us the courage to set off, the nourishment we need to travel well, and the welcome we long for at our journey’s end. So may we grow in grace and love of you and in the service of others. through Jesus Christ our Lord,

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As we walk together, pilgrims rather than strangers, our encounters, our conversations, our experiences good or bad, can act as a stimulus towards further spiritual reflection and dialogue – not stumbling blocks, but stepping-stones. And always as we do this we remember the pilgrim who comes towards us from the opposite direction. In Jesus Christ, God comes in search of us.

RESOURCES The Diocese has a foldable canvas Labyrinth (7.3 m diameter). To borrow this ring Revd Sally Welch on 07974 439630. Diocesan map (published summer 2011) Pocket Prayers for Pilgrims edited by John Pritchard (CHP, 2011) Making a Pilgrimage by Sally Welch (Lion, 2009) Every Place is Holy Ground by Sally Welch (SCM, 2011) An Altar in the World: Finding the Sacred Beneath Our Feet by Barbara Brown Taylor (Canterbury Press, 2009) Pilgrimage by Jonathan Sumption (Faber, 1975) Pilgrimage: A Spiritual and Cultural Journey by Ian Bradley (Lion, 2009) The Pilgrimage to Santiago by Edwin Mullins (Signal, 2001) OLISTIC MISSION H Walking the Labyrinth: A practical guide by Sally Welch (SCM, 2010) Walking a Sacred Path by Lauren Artress (Riverhead, 1995) Sustaining the sacred centre The Confraternity of St James: www.csj.org.uk – information on the route to Santiago de Compostela and others. www.veriditas.org M CHR INISTRY IN THE ITY www.labyrinthsociety.org ISTI UN di Mak sc in ip g le s

But although the journey can take many days or weeks, shorter pilgrimages are possible too. All you need is a pilgrim spirit, a recognition that life is a journey, coming from God and returning to God. For this a visit to a local church, or a walk made with a pilgrim’s heart is sufficient. You could do this alone or with others, mindful always that we walk in the company of Christ and the whole Church.

Labyrinths can help us to pray; the distraction of walking allows us to concentrate on listening to God. The twists and turns of the path can serve as a metaphor for our life’s journey – although we may often be confused or appear lost, we will always arrive at the centre.

IAN MATURIT RIST Y CH

Pilgrimage is a spiritual journey to a sacred site. The travelling and the destination are inseparable – the journey is as important as the end. It is a physical thing: it is in the action of travelling, of encountering the new and the unfamiliar, of allowing ourselves time and space away from the routine of everyday life that we receive insights and spiritual growth.

PILGRIMAGE

John Pritchard Bishop of Oxford


PILGRIMAGE AT HOME

PILGRIMAGE IN THE COMMUNITY

For many of us, it is not possible to make long journeys. But even if we remain within our local environment, it is possible to gain the same insights and wisdom as those who are free to journey great distances.

Making a pilgrimage through our local neighbourhood gives us new opportunities for personal spiritual growth and to pray for our community.

Our God is not only the God of wide open spaces but of the domestic and local, who can be found in the everyday as well as the new and unfamiliar. • You might begin at the front door, asking God to bless you on your journey as you listen to what he has to say to you. Travel mindfully through your home. • Pause to rest in your favourite chair: pray for a proper balance of activity and leisure, or simply enjoy the sensation of sitting quietly in the presence of God. • Sit to pray for those who might share a meal with you at your table. • Look carefully at the photographs and souvenirs you have in your home, asking God to give those you love the things they need. • Sit or lie on your bed and give thanks (or pray) for the gift of refreshment and sleep. • Visit the bathroom and give thanks for water. Pray for those millions who lack clean water. • Return to the front door and pray for good encounters with other people whenever you leave. Walk slowly and prayerfully; physical movement makes the act of pilgrimage and the prayer of pilgrimage more intentional, more deliberate. Offer to God your whole self, heart, mind and body.

• Take time to walk mindfully, aware of being fully alive in the present moment. • Travel slowly through landscape that is familiar, taking the opportunity to look through different eyes – eyes made aware of God’s glory in creation – to the extraordinary range of people and places through which we pass, often blindly, each day • As you go, pray for significant places and the people who visit them: the school, the pub, the shops, the post office. • At the town/village hall, pray for those involved in local government. At the car park, pray for drivers. • Sit in the park, resting in God and thanking Him for the gift of relaxation and leisure. Spend time simply being in God’s presence. • Think of the journeys that Jesus made in his lifetime, from that first journey to the stable in Bethlehem, through the teaching and healing in the villages around Jerusalem to that last bitter walk to the cross and afterwards along the road to Emmaus. These journeys will bring us back to where we started but we may no longer be the same people. With open eyes and hearts we may have discovered God where he has always been – right in the midst of the everyday.

FURTHER AFIELD If you do have a few days or weeks to spare, you could join the hundreds of thousands of people each year who journey to one of the world’s pilgrim sites – places where, it is believed, the gap between earth and heaven is just that bit narrower, the veil that divides this world and the next just that bit thinner. Put aside the preoccupations of everyday life and spend time walking, praying, reflecting, on your own or with other pilgrims. When you reach your destination, a place made holy by the millions of prayers that have been said within its walls throughout the centuries, pause before you return home, taking the insights of the pilgrimage with you. • The three biggest Christian pilgrimage sites are Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela. Santiago de Compostela has probably the most straightforward walking routes, with clearly way-marked paths from Italy, Germany, Portugal and France. • Within the UK, the islands of Iona and Lindisfarne have long played host to pilgrims. Pilgrim routes can be walked to Canterbury, where Thomas à Becket was murdered, and Walsingham, the site of a vision of the Virgin Mary, as well as other places such as Winchester, St David’s and Durham. How about a parish pilgrimage? • There are also many smaller pilgrimage places, some of which can be found within this Diocese. A special map will be published in 2011. Go on your own, with friends or as a parish group. Contact the local church to ensure a warm welcome.


Pilgrimage : A Simple Guide