Apr 2018

First Thoughts: Revd Jane

An invitation to a ‘Reflective Spring Walk’

One of the things I have most enjoyed about moving to Shoreham is the abundance of beautiful places to walk. Every morning when I go out with the dog, there is the choice of river, sea, downs or park. My husband John and I are spoilt for choice, and we don’t have to get into a car to visit any of them. Springtime is a wonderful opportunity to get outside, shake off the winter blues ,and walk. There is something about the Easter season, with its new life resurrecting all around, that reinvigorates us and beckons us to stride out.

Walking as a spiritual practice has long been part of the Christian tradition. For starters, Jesus did a lot of walking! He must have spent days and days on the roads and tracks, walking with his disciples. When he wanted to restore himself, he always headed for a quiet wilderness place. The resurrected Christ revealed himself to his disciples as they journeyed on the road to Emmaus, and we too can find that there is a sacred dimension to walking that draws us closer to God.

There is a lesser-known tradition within the Christian calendar called Rogationtide, when parishioners would walk around their neighbourhood saying special prayers and singing hymns. We don’t much observe this anymore, which is a shame as it offers a wonderful opportunity for us to worship outside, walk together and connect to the created world.

Saint Augustine of Hippo is thought to have said, ‘Solvitur ambulando’, which is Latin for ‘it is solved by walking’. Some people find that walking in nature is a great healer. If there is something on your mind, a concern seems to be put into a different perspective after gazing at the sea, or looking across at the South Downs.

Walking in nature slows us down, connects us to the wonder of God’s creation, gives us space and silence, and is also good for our physical health. Of course, not everyone is physically able to walk far, if at all; but we can all enjoy fresh air and a glorious landscape. The Disabled Ramblers exists to help mobility-challenged people get out into the countryside, and works with authorities to try and improve access, which has to be a good thing.

It is interesting to note how popular pilgrimages are now becoming. Henry VIII tried to ban them, and the tradition went into demise for many hundreds of years; but today, the physical and spiritual adventure of a pilgrimage seems to appeal to the contemporary imagination. It’s estimated that 250,000 pilgrims walk to Santiago de Compostela each year, and The British Pilgrimage Trust is a charity that is trying to re-open a lost pilgrimage route in this country between Southampton and Canterbury, taking in the South Downs en route.

You can have some rich conversations with people as you walk together, so as well as being a solitary pursuit, it can also be social too. I hope we might experience both silence and fellowship on a reflective walk that I am organising a little later in the spring on the Saturday before Rogation Sunday. The plan is to start at The Church of the Good Shepherd and finish at St Mary de Haura, on a route that takes in the beach, river, St Nicholas Church and Mill Hill Nature Reserve.

We will be exploring the Genesis story of creation (chapters 1-3), using readings, poetry and mindfulness practices. We will also share some of the prayers from the Rogation Sunday liturgy. We will finish off with a well-earned cream tea in the Parish Centre. I do hope you might join me and, as it reads in Genesis 13:17: ‘Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you’.

Reflective Spring Walk for Rogationtide
2:00 pm, Saturday, 5 MAY
starting at The Good Shepherd,
finishing at St Mary de Haura

Parts of the walk are accessible for those who are less mobile.

Look out in the weekly church notices for full details soon.

Revd Jane Bartlett
(Assistant Curate)

Monthly Letter
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