and I will miss all my fellow pilgrims. Looking back over the weeks I realise how important these walks have become for me.
Over the summer between 12-20 people of all ages, from 3-80 years, have joined our reflective walks. We've brought our dogs, made new friends, helped one another over styles, told jokes and laughed together. We talked about trivial things and serious matters. We've took it in turns to lead, and we have left no one behind.
If you have been following these occasional blogs you will remember that we set off on these reflective walks earlier in the summer to see what would happen to the idea of 'Church' if we took it out of a building and into the landscape. A landscape that we all share but none of us possess.
My normal practice is to walk in almost total silence. So the walking together in a group was new for me and I found the process of talking whilst walking a slightly fractured one. I often found myself starting but not quite finishing a conversation, which can be a little frustrating. But for all of that, I love the random way you wash up next to someone for awhile as you walk, before a change of direction or an steeper incline or gate, shuffles the pack and brings new companions. So there is a freshness and unpredictability to our walks that is very different to church services. There is also a delightfully egalitarian togetherness to it that enables everyone to make a contribution. The experienced walkers who know the names of all the peaks in sight are no more important that the child of three who walks every step with us. Or the teenagers with their endless stream of stories and jokes that divert and distract us from the weariness of the climb. By the end of the night its the oldest and the youngest, not the fittest who win the acclaim and admiration and somehow that feels very authentically 'church'.
For those of us who set out to encounter God in the landscape at the beginning of summer we have been richly rewarded, its an experiment I am sure we will repeat next year, the routes are already being planned, so keep your boots polished....