Saturday 17 December 2016

A pilgrimage of sorts

Our family is about to embark on a journey of a lifetime. After months of saving and planning, we are ready to leave for our holiday to the United Kingdom. This is my homeland. I will be returning to the places where my life began and reconnecting with family, some of whom I haven't seen since I was eight years old. For me, the planning has been half the fun. Researching, booking accommodation and seeking out the not-to-be-missed sights has certainly been a project in itself.

As much as this is a family holiday, and there will be plenty of light entertainment, I am also seeing this trip as a pilgrimage of sorts. I have chosen to travel with a question. Not that this will consume my time away, but will sit with me much like my camera or perhaps my jacket (its going to be cold). The question is a personal one that was gifted to me by a good friend and will be important for me as we enter 2017.

I have hopes to visit three places that may help me to carry this question. The first is my first faith community, Alan Road Methodist Church in Ipswich. I was baptised there. I learnt about the Bible there. I sang my first hymns there (some of which are still my favourites). I began to learn how to serve other people there. This is where my faith journey began and I have many fond memories. I know it will seem small and 35 years will have seen many changes, but I am interested to see how I feel being there. I am keen to reconnect with this foundational place.

The second place I hope to visit is not too far from my hometown. I am keen to spend some time sitting in Julian's cell in Norwich. Those who have followed this blog for a while will know of my passion for the Mystics. Julian of Norwich was a counsellor and advisor to her community. She is known as the first woman to write a book and her near death experience brought her visions of God's love. She was an amazing thinker and theologian for her time. As with many mystics, she sat on the fringes of the church, but still remained a part. She was an amazing woman and I look forward to a little quiet sitting in her space.

The third place in my pilgrimage is Chalice Well in Glastonbury. This is one of the best known holy wells in Britain and is connected to many spiritual legends. The current theme for the well is "Many Paths, One Source"; a theme which resonates with my own ideas and theology. I see the well as a sacred place of depth, mystery and history. I know as I sit or stand by the well, I will be one of millions who over the centuries have visited this portal in search of hope and healing.

I am trying not to build up my hopes in seeing all three of these places. I know that time and the weather could work against me. So I've set a target of making it to two of them. At each place, and many other stops in between, I will carry my question like a precious stone. I do not know if I will come home with answers, but I will never know if I leave the question at home.

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