October 2014

“So what did  you do on your Sabbatical?” many people have been kindly asking me.
You may have noticed a slight pause as I tried to frame an answer. It isn’t easy to sum up three months in a couple of sentences. I wrote before I started that this is meant to be a time “to be recharged, renewed, to reflect and not go to any evening meetings”. One thing I noticed was that unwinding was quite hard – it took a few weeks to stop looking in the diary and panicking about missing something. There was also a sense of missing out on things as well.

I did manage to go on Pilgrimage. I will be sharing more of going to Shetland and back, spending time in retreat, intending to go to Amsterdam and ending up in London. I also travelled to the Lake District, South Wales and the Hampshire coastline. Sometimes it felt as though I was unpacking, washing and packing again. It was a good kind of busy though and I learned a lot of new things about the UK and about myself.  I also did some storytelling writing – which will probably emerge at Wednesday worship or in sermons in due course. I was able to creative, but not necessarily in the ways that I planned to be when I started.

 I think that what I have learned is that pilgrimage is not just about travelling from A to B. A great deal of the journeying happens when you get back home, look at the photos or the souvenirs, remembering moments and stories. It is about reflecting on where was God in all this? He was there in the beauty of nature, in chance conversations with strangers , in reunions with old friends and family. I think being on pilgrimage is about travelling intentionally with God and waiting to see what he will show. And the good news is that this makes any encounter, any journey, a pilgrimage whether it is a cruise or a walk to the shop. Whether it takes you to the top most tip of the British Isles (as my journey did) or to the kitchen (ooh, I went there too!).

I had the luxury of spending three months on active pilgrimage with God. Some days we had great adventures and experienced things I will never forget. I’ll be honest, some days we stayed in our pyjamas and just did some ironing and watched the tvI’ve learned about my strengths and weaknesses as a human being and as a Christian. And I know that God loves me anyway. 

In many ways I did not want it to be over. And the good news is that it doesn’t have to be. I may not travel as far as Shetland again any time soon. But I can travel with God any time I want to. And so can you.

As John Bunyan says
Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what folk say.
I’ll labour night and day to be a pilgrim.

Every blessing,