I’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.