Summer reflections from the North

It’s four months since I returned home from Northern Leg of Pilgrim Cross. What has stayed with me from the week?

First of all, challenge and change. Challenge from the walking itself, from the (relatively minor) discomforts of sleeping on church hall floors, from the inevitable frictions entailed in the creation of an intentional community of very diverse individuals. Change was the theme for the week, reflected skilfully in the liturgy, which unfolded and unknotted (literally) itself across the pattern of Holy Week. The way in which the countryside itself in springtime changes to reflect the metaphor of the joy of rebirth from the pain of death. The ways in which we must change if our planet is to survive. The ways in which we can uphold and support each other when seeking to make meaningful change in our lives.

Second, community. Northern Leg is self-reflectively a distinctive community within Pilgrim Cross, and within the broader Christian traditions reflected in the Leg membership. The ways in which Northern Leg embodies community aren’t necessarily always obvious from the outside. There’s a fair amount of teasing, joking and general ribaldry involved in the community. We certainly don’t take ourselves terribly seriously all the time. I didn’t experience any po-faced piety during the week – although there was plenty of serious action and reflection on what it means to have faith in the context of the 21 st century UK.

But Northern Leg is a community of intention. To me, anyway, it exists to mark Holy Week and to celebrate it with each other and the people we meet along the way. I’ve found myself remembering those people at strange times: the parishioners who offered us soup, warm drinks, cakes, full meals, a sunlit lawn, a clean toilet, a place to lay our heads overnight, even at some risk to themselves (it is after all still a global pandemic). Their generosity in allowing us to sleep in their community and sometimes holy spaces. Their joy in sharing in our literal and metaphorical journey.

Third, stories, connecting to pilgrims in the past. There’s an informal rule on Northern Leg that you may not tell a story if you were actually there when it happened. This rule is frequently broken, but its very existence means that there are connections made, though the stories that are told, with pilgrims on Northern Leg through time – right back to the first walkers in the 1960s, who were also engaging very directly with the politics of their day, and what it meant for their faith.

Tammy Hervey

walked Northern Leg for the third time in 2022.
Her first times were in 1998 and 1999.

Published by northernpilgrimthoughts

We are a pilgrimage

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