The stunning chapel at Scargill in Upper Wharfedale
After completing the Camino de Santiago in the spring of 2019 I realised that pilgrimage had become a new and exciting part of my life. The Camino was for me a truly wonderful adventure which gave me the space and time to reflect on my life journey in body, mind and spirit. It was in memory of my wife who died in 2018. My walk from the French Pyrenees, across northern Spain, to the city of Santiago de Compostela and beyond to the Atlantic Ocean, over 49 days, was an awesome 'life changing' experience.
So as soon as I saw the 'One More Step' week in the Scargill Community brochure I knew instantly it was for me!
View across Wharfedale from Scargill
Scargill is a thriving, multinational community made up from many different Christian denominations. They currently have a resident community of around 35 people. They follow a 'new-monastic' lifestyle offering warmth, welcome and hospitality to all. I felt so 'at home' in an environment where prayer, food and laughter are the main hallmarks of the community, with Jesus at the centre. It was also the venue for my own church week-end away last November.
View from my bedroom window at Scargill
It was a week of showery weather and we often looked out of the
window to see a beautiful rainbow . . . 'God's promise for the future!'
1. Insights into Pilgrimage: Be true to your journey; take only what is necessary. Travel light! Experience lightheartedness. Be 'engaged and expectant' on the journey. It can have a transformative effect on your life (yes!). Remember it is YOUR journey.
2. Insights into Pilgrimage: Travelling companions - myself and others. Rejoice in your companions on the way . . . . amazing people and stories. Be aware of your own pilgrim heart . . . . encounters with God. Walking alongside others . . . sharing, listening, participating in the journey.
3. Insights into Pilgrimage: Being open to God, inhabiting the moment, celebrating the journey. Inhabit and celebrate the moment! Celebrate the journey. Pilgrimage provides a rhythm and balance . . . busy / quiet, town / country. Give yourself permission to stop and look! Enjoy the sheer joy of moving through the landscape . . . . either alone or with companions.
Sally leading a session on 'The Inner Journey - using the Labyrinth'
5. Pilgrimage: Mapping the Journey. We looked at the development of pilgrim route maps through history. In medieval times nuns and monks, unable to undertake the dangerous journey, used an illustrated map of the route to Jerusalem enabling them to undertake a virtual pilgrimage! My Camino was well signed throughout my pilgrimage but as someone who loves maps I did enjoy looking at them on the Way! We also explored how we can create 'life' and 'faith' maps using tools such as mind-mapping. Fascinating!
6. Practical Guide to Pilgrimage. It is YOUR pilgrimage . . . from your front door! Where and why are you going? Be open to yourself . . . ask questions . . . short or long pilgrimages? Ancient ways . . . be open to transformation. Alone or with others? I did the Camino on my own but I met so many fellow pilgrims both while walking and each evening. What do you take? . . . the minimum! Take time to train beforehand.
7. Case Study: Pilgrim Paths Project and beyond. In our final session Sally explained the exciting story of the Pilgrims Paths Project. As previously mentioned she is Vicar of Charlbury on the edge of the Cotswolds, and Area Dean to 32 parish churches around Chipping Norton. Sally has been very aware of the challenge and issues relating to an unsupported rural community including isolation, poverty, lack of housing, etc. Another major issue is the fact that there is not enough clergy for the number of churches plus the congregations are often very small. However many who live in these rural areas are 'spiritual seekers' who see normal Sunday worship as not suiting their needs.
So it is important for churches to look positively at what they HAVE got! It is exciting that there is a new story unfolding where God is at work . . . .
- . . . we have committed christians.
- . . . beautiful churches
- . . . whole settlement ownership of churches.
- . . . thriving towns.
- . . . space to reflect.
- . . . hospitality.
- . . . beautiful countryside.
Using these positive aspects Sally has led and coordinated the Pilgrim Paths Project. This exciting and innovative project has created 'pilgrim pathways', utilising existing footpaths between the churches. Regular outings, using these pilgrim trails, for groups, families, schools and others have brought together the rural community. There has been leadership training for the 'pilgrim path guides' ensuring safety and enjoyment for all ages. Families are able to join in using professionally produced guide-books, thematic booklets on aspects such as 'Sensing Creation in the Outdoors' and signposting. From the Christian perspective all the 'pilgrim path' exploration is 'invitational' and open to everyone in the community. I was very impressed!
Signpost 'way marker' for the Pilgrim Paths
I like the idea of a 'pilgrim path' linking our two churches, St John's and St Luke's, here in Harrogate. Although they are churches in an urban setting there would be the possibility of extending it out into our local countryside utilising the existing 'Harrogate Ringway' footpath. Exciting!
*** for more information about the 'Pilgrim Paths Project' . . . . pilgrimpaths.info
Pilgrimage to Druridge Bay . . . . .
View looking north along the entire length of Druridge Bay
Off-shore winds whipping the spray back into the North Sea
Day of rainbows on the beach at Druridge Bay!
appearing and disappearing throughout the day. Each rainbow appeared to rise up out of the dunes, arch over the beach, and descend into the North Sea. As I walked in prayer I thought about how the rainbow symbolises God's promise for the future.
Video of the gale-force winds blowing the sand across the beach!
7000 year old tree trunk exposed by the low tide!!!
I was amazed to observe an area of ancient tree trunks and peat, about 200 metres long, at the lowest tide mark! Wow! It was incredible to find out that these were the remnants of an ancient forest from 7000 years ago!!!
It has slowly been uncovered by the strong tidal surges in recent years. The logs and tree stumps have been preserved in peat and sand for thousands of years. Studies of this ancient forest reveal it is a mixture of oak, hazel and alder trees from a time when the sea level was much lower and Britain had only just separated from what is now mainland Denmark!! The forest first began to form around 5.300 BC but the encroaching sea covered it by 5,000BC, It was then buried under sand. The remnants of this preserved forest is being studied by archaeologists.
It was a fantastic sight! The forest had existed in the late Mesolithic period, which was a time of hunting and gathering for humans. Evidence has been discovered of humans living nearby in 5,000BC! In the surface of this peat layer they have found footprints of adults and children. The archaeologists can tell by the shape of the footprints that they were wearing leather shoes. They have also found footprints of red deer, wild boar and brown bears!!
Video of 'mini-rainbows' in the spray blown by the off-shore wind!
I was so pleased to find the Drift Cafe at Cresswell still open. I enjoyed a welcome cup of tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake. The perfect end to a brilliant day!
I would love to hear from you either by commenting directly to this blog or by secure email as outlined in the 'Contact' section of my website.