St Peter's Pilgrimage; from Greetham to Peterborough
AND I TELL YOU THAT YOU ARE PETER AND ON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH, AND THE GATES OF HADES WILL NOT OVERCOME IT. MATTHEW 16:18
The St Peters Way idea emerged from focussing on the origins of the church in the New Testament and what it is all about. The quotation above paints the picture perfectly - it was all in Jesus' plan for us.
When Jesus left his disciples, was crucified and rose again, He had already given the disciples a great commission. Peter, as the foremost disciple, was a rock on which Jesus would build his church in the future. He was the first disciple to express that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah. Jesus' directions for Peter as a disciple was to carry on Jesus' work on earth looking after his sheep (us!) feeding His sheep (spreading the word of God as a brilliant guide on how to live life), and to "Follow me (Jesus)".
The pilgrimage idea is to give people - believers, non-believers, Christians from all church denominations - an opportunity to take time out of everyday life and reflect on their lives.
Peter describes people as "living stones" being built into a spiritual house (the church). Jesus is the cornerstone. Peter's church was made of people - not bricks and mortar. Within this spiritual house, (where Christians are gathered together), there can be a manifestation, presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, on the pilgrimage, it would be a blessing for pilgrims to pray for the fruit of the Spirit to be given to us all and the world - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Prayers also for forgiveness, reflection and healing for churches today, which have strayed far from Jesus' plan for us through His first instructions to Peter.
• Peter borough!
• Greet ham (pilgrims!)
• Living stones- represented by this area of quarries filled with stone.
• Ancient paths - Hereward Way, Viking Way, Danes Way, Macmillan Way, Torpel Way - all span the areas of Rutland, Stamford, Lincoln, Humber and Norfolk.
What is a Pilgrimage?
Essentially, a pilgrimage is a journey with purpose & significance. Making a pilgrimage, you are literally walking in the footsteps of history; pilgrimages typically lead to points of historic or spiritual importance, and are paths which have been followed by many over 100s (if not 1000s) of years.
However, pilgrimage is far from exclusively for the religious. People make pilgrimages today for all kinds of reasons. The purpose can be many things, from self-discovery, to personal achievement. Sometimes, the purpose isn't clear until reflection upon completion of the journey!
From a Christian Point of View....5 ideas on pilgrimage from Penelope ministries by design
We long to walk along paths where few have been before, where the madding crowds don't attempt to walk, where our souls can know the silence and solitude of walking with God - and maybe with a companion or two who also are content to walk in companionable silence for a while, sharing the experience, yet without words - for now.
There's something about walking that feeds us, refreshes us, inspires us. Especially so when we take time to specifically seek God's Presence. To continue our story with him in new ways, making our life-book an adventurous journey.
1. A stone or pebble
While you are still at the beginning of your walk, look for a stone or pebble that appeals to you. Something that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. Keep walking while you:-
- walk with it for a moment or two, just feeling it, growing accustomed to its presence in your hand.
- think of something which is holding you back from being closer to God; or something which is worrying you or causing you stress or anxiety and coming between you and God. For instance, a situation at work or in the family; a perpetual temptation to which you often give in; even just tiredness and busy-ness.
- Hold that in your mind just as you are holding the stone in your hand. Turn them both over and over, noticing how that feels.
- Talk to God about it. Maybe describe the stone and how it represents what's come between you and God.
- Tell God that you want to leave it with him and not have it come between you any longer. Ask for the grace and the strength to get rid of it, to let it go, leave it with him.
- Still walk on a little further, noticing how it feels to have had this time with God and this conversation with him.
- Now look for a safe place that appeals to you to leave your stone or pebble. Maybe you will hide it under a tree or in a hole; maybe you will leave it on top of a wall .... Whatever seems good for now. Don't worry if it takes another few steps or yards or miles to find the ‘right' place!
- Place the stone or pebble in the chosen place and as you do so, thank God that you can leave this with him for him to deal with. Consciously make the decision to leave this with him, now that you have discussed it with him and want to hand it over.
- Walk on, knowing that you have left things safely in God's hands. Give thanks that he holds you in the palm of his hand.
2. The Five Senses
Think about your five senses. Can you recall what they are? Sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste.
Take a few moments for each sense. You may want to use them one by one, maybe taking 10 - 15 minutes for each in turn. Or you may choose to have a pause between each sense and spread them out over the whole walk. Or just to do one sense and take five walks with one per walk.
Whatever helps you appreciate them even more.
- Start with your sight. As you walk, look around and see. Really look hard and notice what's around you. What can you see? What do you notice? Near? Far away? Right up close? Pause and peer into the heart of a flower; are there parts you've not seen before? Marvel at the gift of sight and give thanks to God.
- Think about what you can smell. It will vary according to where you are walking of course. Sniff the air. Take a few deep breaths in and out as you walk. Inhale and exhale consciously. There are several different ways to breathe. Try some of them and see if that affects what you smell as well as how you smell things. Is the air fragrant? Or not?! Are there flowers to stoop and smell, are there trees or bushes? Car exhaust or animals and manure? Marvel at the gift of scent and smell and give thanks to God.
- What can you hear? Stand still for a few moments and notice how much noise you were making as you walked and the difference when you pause. Now what can you hear? Nearby? Far away? Your own heartbeat? Marvel at the gift of hearing and give thanks to God.
- Allow your fingers to feel and touch by brushing against things (nothing poisonous though!) such as grasses, leaves, twigs; your own skin, your clothing, your water bottle. Feel the different textures and how they impact you. Find something
soft, something sharp, something twiggy, something rough. Do things feel different on each hand? What can you feel on your skin - wind, rain, sun? Marvel at the gift of touch and give thanks to God.
- When it's time for a snack or lunch, eat slowly; and taste. Really consciously taste whatever is in your mouth - including liquids. Savour and relish the tastes and textures, and enjoy the sensations. Marvel at the gift of taste and give thanks to God.
- Finally, be aware of God's creation all around you and know that you are part of it. Created and loved by him, given the gift of your senses for pleasure and enjoyment. Marvel and be thankful.
3. A Heavy Burden
Find something to carry while you are walking. Something that is heavy, or awkward, to carry. Maybe a small boulder, or a large unwieldy branch, for instance. Whatever you can find as you walk.
- walk on, carrying this burden, for as long as you can.
- as you walk, think about this burden you are carrying. Ask yourself how it feels; what it makes you do, or not do; how it impacts your walking or your relationship with those around you. How do you now feel about this thing you have chosen to carry?
- Now compare this physical burden to a spiritual or emotional burden you are carrying. How does that feel? What does it make you do or not do? How does it impact your life journey or relationships with those around you? How do you now feel about this burden? About both burdens?
- Are you longing to put both burdens down?
- Look for a safe place to throw away the burden you are carrying. (make sure there's no one else in the way, especially if you are throwing it over a cliff edge!) Heave it away from you and as you do so, shout out : Cast your burdens on to Jesus: he cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7)
- Stand and appreciate what you have just done. How did that action feel?
- Now leave the emotional or spiritual burden with him, too.
Give thanks that you can leave it all with him, because he cares for you.
Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let requests be made known to God.
4. Praying Psalm 139
I realized one day that giving attention to the actual process of walking can be a prayer in itself. I guess we don't often pay much attention to this process and yet it involves the whole of the body. To reflect on the activity of walking can lead to a sense of wonder at the amazing complexity and efficiency (hopefully!) of the body God has given us and how he has made us.
Copy out Ps 139: 13-16 to take with you (or have it ready on your smart phone app)
- Take some moments to walk very, very slowly indeed.
- Be aware of each movement needed to take a step: very deliberately lift your leg - move the leg forward - slowly place the heel, then the toe on the ground; notice the shift of weight in your whole body as you do so, how the heel automatically lifts ....
- Take the next step even more slowly, consciously and deliberately feeling the way your body moves and is hinged together and how it works.
- How does walking affect the main part of your body? What are your hands doing? Your head? Your tongue?! Are you still breathing?
- Notice what every part of your body is doing as you take each deliberate and slow step.
After a while, stop and pause. Maybe sit down and rest for a moment.
Read aloud Psalm 139. 13-16:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Read it again and preferably read out loud. Then a third time.
Now simply allow the words to resonate with you as you reflect on them.
How do they make you feel?
What do you think about them?
How do you want to respond? Do you need to respond or just to accept and be thankful? To be in awe and wonder at how you are created?
Now continue to walk as slowly as your sense of balance will allow (very slowly indeed) and pray as you walk. Eg:-
- thank God for the way he has made you YOU
- marvel at his creation (including your body)
- allow yourself to feel him with you
- relish the fact there is no-one else like you
As you return to walking normally, take with you a sense of gratitude that God has made you YOU and you are able to walk!
5. A Special Person
Most of us have someone who is dear to us; or someone who especially needs our prayers right now; or someone we are worried about or concerned for.
Think about who it is that you want to bring to mind now.
- As you walk, bring that person to mind and visualise them.
- Look for something you can pick up and carry in the palm of your hand, to remind you of the person. It could be a little stone, or a feather, or a piece of moss, or really anything which catches your
eye. It just needs to fit into your hand and be easily carried.
- Continue to think about the person you have chosen.
Why this person?
Why this person now?
Where are they right now, physically, spiritually,
What might they need from God?
Ask God to bless them (leaving the content of the blessing
- Commit them to God. Hold them in love to him. You don't need words, perhaps, just love. A loving concern.
- Now look for somewhere to leave what you are carrying. Choose somewhere special and as you leave it there, use the action to mentally place the person into God's gracious and loving hands and leave them with him.
- OR: take it home with you and put it somewhere where it will be a reminder to continue to lift the person in prayer to God; or a reminder that you have committed them to him and he will take care of them. Whatever is most helpful.