December 23rd, 2013
A Wapping Pilgrimage
Just before Advent began, we walked to the three places of worship in our local neighbourhood of Wapping, all very different: different sizes, different atmospheres and different ways of putting us in touch with who God is. On pilgrimage, God speaks to us in different ways. Walking with different people takes us out of our normal environment, it exposes us to something unfamiliar, surprising and sometimes unsettling us. We noticed some of the birds, the rustle of big crunchy autumn leaves under our feet and the slightly bemused look of our neighbours, asking themselves who this was walking down their street. And above all the sense of peace which usually characterises this part of London. Our little group of pilgrims were Anglicans and Catholics, men and women of all different ages, each trying to take time out before the beginning of Advent so that this period which so easily becomes a hectic time focusing on material things would be more a time of spiritual preparation for Christmas.
The pilgrimage walk was part of our Advent Pilgrimage day of prayer with Paul Nicholson SJ, November 2013. After each person had shared a story about their favourite journey, Paul spoke to us of the theme of pilgrimage within our life’s journey. We were encouraged to think about what we notice along the way, the high points and the low points, as well as the direction of our travel. We also considered the importance of the people we meet, the kindness of those we encounter and the fellowship of those we travel with. As we look towards Christmas, we reflected together on stories of characters who travelled to Bethlehem to meet the Christ child and what they might tell us about our own journey through Advent. Above all we were encouraged that pilgrimage, like prayer, is something to be done, not just read about or talked about, so here’s to what we see and who we meet next time we are out and about in Wapping, now and during the Advent season.