Walking together for Creation Time

cop21The Orthodox Church year begins in September.  The first month, until the feast of Francis, patron of all things ecology, is dedicated to creation.  It is especially important to remember Creation Time this year as the worlds’ leaders prepare to meet in Paris in November for the 21st attempt to make a universal climate agreement.  The aim of the conference is to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping the global temperature rise below 2°C.  We’ve been here before and come away empty handed.  This really is the issue of our time.  The effects of even 2°C warming will be world changing.  The current migration crisis will pale into insignificance when sea levels rise enough to cause whole countries to be uninhabitable.  Not only will those who suffer unrest or terror be forced to become migrants, many more will end up as guest in foreign lands.  The gospel readings throughout September this year speak of Jesus journeying in the company of his disciples encountering all kinds of people in need.  This week we hear Jesus challenged by a woman who turns his words back onto him.  We hear of a deaf man with a speech impediment brought to him.  The journey for Jesus was not without confrontation.  Neither will our journey if we are willing to take off our shoes and feel the cry of the earth beneath our feet and of those who dwell on it.  To take off ones shoes is to unbuckle ones minds of normal thinking, to un-stopper our ears to the cry of those in pain and to open our mouths both in protest and with words of healing.  This is to begin to see the world through the eyes of Jesus.
As we contemplate beginning a shared journey with each other and with the earth.

Take off your shoes and walk a mile in mine.
Walk in step unknowing beside our companions.
Walk slowly alongside those we nurture
Walk with an offer of hospitality and sanctuary to those we meet.
Walk with the inspiration to take a lighter journey
Walk with joy in every season.
Walk on a wide path with those we meet but rarely.
Walk on to catch but a glimpse of those far off.
Walk with kindred spirits from other islands.
Walk with souls connected at the deep down.
Walk on with a shared past, a story of struggle or pain.
Walk offering gifts, or a generous word.
Walk with a conversation picked up from the last journey.
Walk with poets whose words become the path.
Walk with a protest on our lips and a banner in our heart.
Walk with those who hold us in prayer, with those for whom we must pray.
Walk with those who offer a new challenge
Walk close to those who are a challenge.
Walk with a shared chance encounter.
Walk, lives connected, weaving in and out
Walk with those who sing, and with those who we wish would not sing.
Walk as artists gathering the colours of nature
Walk with those we have carried and allow them to carry us in their turn.
Walk with the gentle ones, and those who could learn to be gentle
Walk with a vision to go further than we can go
Walk a woven path with the friends of friends of friends
Walk with those who make us laugh at ourselves
Walk with those whose words will carry us until our walking days are done.
Walk in the company of strangers who at journeys end become friends.

Trains, Chips & Pilgrimages

GlasgowCentralI’m sorry not to be joining the pilgrims on the train tomorrow, First Class, Heritage Diesel engine and rolling stock, what’s not to like?  And I’m also sorry not to be going to Glasgow itself.  The big smoke has many delights, the least of these, the chippy round the corner from Central station by the bronze fireman, where you can get a deep fried haggis heart attack supper an a wee bit o banter bout Wales with the staff.  One of the better places to go though is to jump on the Subway at Central and travel, (either way round) to Govan.  Govan Old Parish church is one of the hidden delights of the city and contains some really impressive Hog-Backed tombs and is one of the oldest places of worship in the city.  Of more interest, to me at least, is the link to the Iona Community, for it was at Govan Old that George Macloed began his project to train ministers in the art of community working with the poor.  Round the corner is the Pearce Institute where the Community had it’s offices for some time and where today you can get a good lunch in the heart of Govan, still a poor and deprived area, but with promise.  You can walk back to the centre along the Clyde which tells its own story of Glasgow’s industrial past and positive future.

So what is it about being on pilgrimage that is so inviting?  Perhaps it is the journey towards something, or away from something.  the sense that there is no place to call home for a time.  Pilgrimage can be an interim moment where the world stops for those travelling and the journey becomes everything.

There is also something important about coming back to the beginning afterwards.  We are able to begin again, or to begin a new pilgrimage, but somehow the journey does not stop.  It is a bit like a spiral, ever onward, coming back to, well, almost the place where we began , but not quite, not that the place we began at has changed in our absence, but that we have grown a little from the experience of being away.  As we remember Asaph today, not forgetting Cyndeyrn, Kentigern or Mungo, (whatever you might want to call him) both pilgrim travellers carrying and sharing the gospel from this place.  So we reflect with Peter where Jesus enables him to begin again.  The pilgrimage of the inner life.  Three denials, and three affirmations from Jesus to begin again.  It is ok to come back to the beginning, because it’s not really the beginning at all.  Whether we got it wrong or right or somewhere in between, it is part of the journey to start over.  It is about the going out, and the coming in again.  The ebb and the flow of the spiritual life.  So when the train wanders back towards Wales tomorrow evening to close out the year of Pilgrimage, it is really just the beginning of the next chapter of the same story.