A Last Word (from 2015 Walk)

Washing up in McAdam
This really is the end of the journey. It was a great joy to celebrate the Eucharist with the folks at McAdam this morning. I was also asked to dedicate some new red hangings for use in the church. We had a fine time of worship with some lively hymns, including Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah, which has definitely become a bit of a theme song. It was good to see some people from other parts of the Archdeaconry, who had joined us earlier in the pilgrimage, sharing in the final act of worship. Perhaps they came to make sure we had made it. The last official act for me was to visit some of the residents and staff in the Lodge. It is not easy being limited by the weakness of our physical or mental condition, but I was very impressed with the care people clearly receive there. Then Trevor and I jumped into our borrowed car and covered much of the route it had taken us two weeks to travel in about two and a half hours.

As I sit to write this I have just returned from meeting with two churchwardens, men concerned about the future of ministry in their Parish. It has reminded me of the journey we are on together as a Diocese. We are definitely on a pilgrimage. As the hymn says it can feel at times as if we are passing through a barren land, yet it is Jehovah who will guide us. We are weak, but he is mighty and his hand is powerful. In an earlier posting I said that we cannot lean on our own understanding and this evening as I conclude this blog I want to reflect on this idea.

We say that we believe and trust in a God who is all seeing, present everywhere and all knowing. Therefore there is nothing which is a surprise to him. He also does not have any plans which are not perfect. The problem we face is that all too often we fail to align ourselves with God’s purpose. Too easily we become fixed on our agenda. This is not a shock to God and he seeks to weave our failures to follow his will into his plans for his creation. He does this because he is gracious. The better way, however, would be for us to spend more time in prayer seeking to discern as closely as we can his way ahead for us. To do this we have to spend greater amounts of time in prayer, both individually and corporately. Not seeking to bend God’s will to our way of thinking, but to bend ours to his. Before I walk again next year each of us in the Diocese needs to commit ourselves to redouble our intention in prayer. To seek out new ways of praying and to determinedly discipline ourselves to pray. This will not be an easy task, but it must be done.

We are pilgrims on an uncertain journey. We cannot see the end and there are often surprises on the way. There is only one guide, Jehovah, we need to gaze upon his fire and cloudy pillar to lead us all our journey through. We will then be able to sing songs and praises to him forever.

Good Night, God Bless. Thank you for following this road with me.

David

Day 14

Pilgrimage endSo today was the last day of walking, we made it to McAdam and walked around the dam; the result is that in total we covered 205 kms during the 14 days of the walk. Tomorrow I will celebrate the Eucharist at St. George’s Church here in town (10:00 am).

Meeting people, across lake from McAdam Railway Station

It will seem odd not to have to get up and think about walking anywhere other than just across the street.
At McAdam Railway Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supper at the Railway Station This evening we had a parish meal at the restored railway station. It was a great occasion topped off by the famous pies. In addition we said Compline together, which for me was an excellent way to end the day.

St. Thomas, Moores Mills
This morning we visited St. Thomas Church in Moore’s Mills. It is seldom used nowadays, though it is clear from the graveyard that there was once a flourishing community around it. As is the case with many of our communities in the province the population has dwindled, times have changed and the building is left somewhat isolated. It is very easy to feel that this type of change means inevitable decline and loss for our churches, but I want us to take a long view, perhaps, dare I say, God’s view.

Visiting along the way
Let me tell you a story. My last parish in England was High Ongar with Marden Ash and Norton Mandeville. Three church buildings over a fair amount of territory and all still operating. The largest congregation was in High Ongar. If you did not come early it was hard to get a seat. The smallest was Norton Mandeville. The church was isolated out in the fields, with a couple of houses nearby, no electricity and a wood burning furnace for heat. In 1348 the Black Death struck the area and the villagers moved their homes, leaving the stone building 3 miles from the new village.

Did God abandon the area? No. Yet over the centuries ministry was reconfigured time and again to meet the needs of new generations. As I reflected upon St. Thomas’s today I realized that we are in a similar process of realignment. We cannot give up, because God is still working out his purpose. What we have to do is accept that things will not look as they have, but if our concern is to allow God to grow his Kingdom then we have to make peace with the difficult changes we face.

There it is: 205 kms, many walkers, One God. Thank you for following our journey. I will make one more post, hopefully tomorrow; but back to the real world, I have a meeting at 6.30pm.
good night
Good night and God bless.

+David

Day 13

With Ross Hebb and Wilfred Allison
We were promised heat for day 13 and were not disappointed. At one point this afternoon the temperature was 27 centigrade; the good news was that by then we had finished our walk and were in St. Stephen visiting the university. It has been several years since I was there and it was good to see the developments which have been undertaken recently. We arrived in the town at about Noon and made our way to the church for Midday Prayers. On the walk we were joined by, amongst others, Fr. Ross Hebb and Mr. Wilfred Allison from St. Peter’s Fredericton.

Congregation of St. David's
Our first stop of the day was St. David’s Church just beside the old highway. It was a joy to say Morning Prayer there and Trevor tells me that a unique event happened, all the regular members of the congregation except one were in attendance. We received a warm welcome, there was water to drink and fruit to eat. Having been blessed on our way we headed on the old road until we reached the Red Rooster, we then turned left and struck out for the river. We came in to St. Stephen along the banks of the St. Croix, looking across to the USA. There was a beautiful display of phlox on the river bank to greet us.

Before St. Stephen parish supper
This evening we had a pot luck supper with the folks from the parish and said Evening Prayer together. I was also interviewed by representatives of both the Telegraph Journal and the Courier. There has been a fair amount of interest generated by the pilgrimage in this area; I am humbled, surprised and delighted by it.

Walking along
As we enter the final day of walking, my hope is that we will complete the task which we set out upon 13 days ago. In many ways given my lack of genuine preparation I can only say that it is by the grace of God that I have come this far. This journey has made me aware of the many faithful people we have in our Diocese, but I also sense a great degree of fear and uncertainty. There is a need for us all to remember that God is faithful.

David at St. David's
As Bishop I have felt the weight of expectation during this walk. I know that people are looking to me to lead into a more stable future, but the truth is I cannot rely on my own understanding and you cannot rely on me.

I was told a sad story about two young men who were trapped in their truck on the bar to Minister’s Island, unfortunately one was lost. The other survived, apparently because he fixed his eyes on a light on the shore and swan towards it. As we have shared Evening Prayer across this Archdeaconry we have been reminded time after time that Christ is the light of the world. If we are going to see this grand old ship, the Diocese of Fredericton, turn around we have to all fix our eyes on Jesus. We have to learn to do this by taking advantage of the opportunities which will arise during the coming months to discover more of our faith and how to practice it.

There is a question which faces us all, do we know Jesus? Have we decided to follow him? He calls us as he did his first disciples to “Come and see”.

Good night, God bless,

+David

Day 12

David - close up
The day began with the sound of rushing water. The rain was pouring down and continued to do so for about 2 hours. Thankfully just as we left All Saints it stopped and did not begin again. This necessitated a quick change from wet weather gear at Tim Horton’s. The day was then set fair and despite dire warnings about storms in Oak Bay this evening, there was nothing but rumbles of thunder.

oak bay campground
We are staying in Don and Irene Adams’ trailer here at the camp ground in Oak Bay and are really grateful. We had a huge feed of steamed clams this evening with Joe and Kathy Moffatt and then sat around the campfire, hence my lateness in posting this blog. I have to say the air has been thick with black flies and mosquitoes. I am a veritable pincushion of bites and stings.

Today I think I reached the edge of my endurance.I know on Tuesday I said that we were walking our longest distance, well re-arrangements of the route meant that we walked further today, just over 23 kms. We have now completed just over 100 miles. I have to say the Oak Bay camp ground sign seemed to remain terribly small for a very long time.
150611_sheep_maybe
As I foot slogged along the last 2 kms I realized something very important. In this Christian life sometimes it is necessary just to put one foot in front of the other. It may not appear that much progress is being made and it might seem that there is little hope of completion, but we just have to keep on going.

Today as we walked along the road from St. Andrews to the old highway, my foot began to hurt more than it has done all week. So much so that I needed to change my walking pattern to ease the pain. In order to finish the course it was necessary to stick at things, but also make changes. I believe that was a revelation to me from God. I will need to ponder and pray about it more deeply.

Good Night and God Bless,

+David

(For route and schedule details, click here)

Day 11

150610_ministers_island_sunAnother foggy dawn with the prospect of thunderstorms turned into a gloriously sunny day on Minister’s Island. We crossed the bar at about 11.15 am and made our way firstly to Parson Andrews’ House and then to the van Horne summer “cottage”. It was great to see both places and other parts of the island. The sadness is that neither place is taken seriously for what it is, an important part of our Provincial history. The dedicated workers and volunteers who are doing amazing work to make the buildings and their surroundings accessible should receive more help from all levels of government.
150610_ministers_island_vanHorne
We walked back along part of the beach, it was quite rocky but also very beautiful. During the day we saw two eagles, presumably getting ready to fish as the tide changed. In a sense today was something of a rest day, nonetheless we covered about 11 kms. We were joined by Archdeacon Matheson and members of the congregation of All Saints.
150610_ministers_island_parsons
Yesterday I was met on the road by a reporter from the local TV station. He had heard about the walk and wanted to do a piece about it. Hence tonight I was duly taken to a small studio to be interviewed. I was expecting it to be a news item, but in fact it was an extensive conversation which lasted for 30 minutes. I am far from sure how many people watch this particular channel, but it was an opportunity to speak about Jesus.
150610_ministers_island_lunch
Today I have been inspired by the ministry of my hosts, Bob and Marlene Cheatley. I have known Bob for several years as he is the President of St. Stephen University and when I was Principal of Taylor College we would meet periodically.

Bob and Marlene decided some time ago to try to connect with people who used to attend church in St. Andrews (people from all denominations and none), but who no longer do so. They invited 25 people to a pot luck supper in their home and a group has formed. It is not connected to any one church, though the Cheatleys are members of the Anglican Church. In addition to the supper a Bible study group has formed.

I realize that I am light on detail about this enterprise, but I want to commend all those involved. Too easily people can be hurt by the Church or feel rejected by God. This is one intentional way in which they can be drawn back into fellowship. Who except God knows what the future is for this gathering, but it is a good and blessed thing.

Good night. God bless you,

+David

(Please post a comment to let us know you are reading this blog. For route and schedule details, click here)

Day 10

alpacas
150609_walking
The good news was that we awoke this morning without any of the predictions made by some of the folks at Elmsville coming to pass; the main one being the possibility of mice running around the hall during the night. We said Morning Prayer with Archdeacon Matheson at 8.00am and were on the road by 9. This was projected to be the longest day with our covering just over 22 kms. We achieved this, arriving in Chamcook at 2.00pm, just before the rain really took hold. In fact it was a great day for walking, though the bugs were a little vicious in the woods.

150609_Chamcook_chapel
I can thoroughly recommend the pulpit in the church at Chamcook to sleep against. I put my pack against it and was happily looking at the inside of my eyelids. Trevor tells me I sounded like a bull moose on occasions. At 5.00pm we said Evening Prayer with about 16 people and then it was off for a shower before dinner at the Europa Inn with the ACW. It is a hard life on pilgrimage.

And the Bishop of Fredericton said to Trevor, "My feet are tired, fetch me yonder Donkey."
And the Bishop of Fredericton said to Trevor, “My feet are tired, fetch me yonder Donkey.”

Today I was reminded of the concept of entropy, a lack of order or predictability, a gradual decline into disorder. The reason for the reminder was Trevor pointing out what he described as the trucks’ graveyard. By the side of the road, not apparently connected to any home or business, were at least 4 trucks gradually rusting away. They must at some point have been someone’s pride and joy, but now they appear to be abandoned hulks, which if left for long enough will disappear into the ground.

I began to think about the things that we set store by and the words of Jesus when he tells us to build up treasures in heaven where neither rust or moth can destroy them. We live in an entropic world where even the best we can own or invent will ultimately become tarnished and decay. The things of God are the eternal things, for example, growing the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives or seeking to do the good thing rather than the harmful.

As Christians we should be growing in Jesus not decaying and becoming less human. We are all called to be human and being human means following the example of Christ.

+David

(Please post a comment to let us know you are reading this blog. For route and schedule details, click here)

Day 9

Another sunny day dawned in Charlotte County, but it did not remain so until day’s end. The weather forecast was bang on. We were told it would begin to rain at 4.00pm this afternoon and at 3 minutes to, the first large drops appeared. Thankfully we had completed our 15 kms by then and were happily under cover. I do not think we will be as fortunate tomorrow.
150608_with_Cindy_and_David2
Today we were joined by the Diocesan Chancellor, Professor David Bell, and Cindy Derksen from Jackson Falls and Hartland, respectively. It was good to have them with us, especially as they both have a good knowledge of New Brunswick plant life, so were able to add to our interest as we went along.

A rare photo with Trevor in it!
A rare photo with Trevor in it!

Lunch was in the Methodist cemetery in Lower Elmsville; we also said our Midday Prayers there. It was good to pray on what had been the site of a church. It felt to me as if we were reclaiming something. I do not really know how that works, given that we seem to be in retreat on so many fronts, it is something I will have to ponder.

Photo taken on the return trip
Photo taken on the return trip

I was so distracted by prayers and lunch that I inadvertently left my walking stick leaning against a signpost. We had travelled half a kilometre when I realized, so off I set back to get it. Trevor then told me that he would go as he can walk faster than me. I was grateful.

150608_Elmsville
In fact today has been a day of uncertain reflection for me. We received a very warm greeting at Elmsville and had enough food to feed an army. Everyone said they were glad to see us. We ate together and shared Evening Prayer. It is clear that the church, particularly the hall, plays a really important role in the community. One example is that they have a generator so that in emergencies they are a place of refuge for the area.

They have taken on caring projects in ways that I would never have thought of and are obviously significant for the people who live around them. The folks who gathered with us tonight represent a good deal of what is good in our New Brunswick traditions. The question for me as Bishop is how do we maintain something which is good as the people age and reduce in number. Once again it is that ministry of presence and acceptance.

150608_Elmsville_hall
I am wrestling with the tricky interface between Gospel imperatives and community ministry. Where does one begin and the other end? I do not pretend to have too many answers here, but it is an issue which we have to face fairly and squarely.

Tomorrow is the longest walk we have, 22 kms. It is supposed to be quite wet so please pray for us.

Good night and God bless you.

+David

(For route and schedule details, click here)

Day 8

The day dawned fair and warm on the Island of Campobello this morning. It is a very beautiful place and I can understand why many people choose to spend their summers there. Though I am not so convinced of the wisdom of swimming in the cold waters of the Bay, there is certainly an allure to the place. I too could imagine spending time there, but I can also see that in rough weather it may be something of a challenge.

St. Anne's congregation
It was good to share worship with the members of St. Anne’s this morning. As many of you may know it is the church where Bishop Medley married the second Mrs. Medley and there are many artifacts in the hall to remind people of the event. In addition the church was obviously visited at one point by President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Ladybird. They are pictured at the front door with Archbishop O’Neil.

My sermon this morning was a reflection on the Gospel reading of the day where Jesus questions who are my mother and brothers? He concludes they are his disciples who do the will of God. Often Jesus required those who would follow him to count the cost. There are many examples such as the rich man needing to sell all he has, or Peter, James and John leaving their nets. There is a huge question which lies before us all: what are we willing to sacrifice for the cause of following Jesus?

Sailing
Sailing away from Campobello Island with Darrell and Michael Caines

The second part of the day was taken up with the journey from Campobello to Back Bay under sail. We made six knots during the crossing. It was then time to say goodbye to the sailors who made their way up the coast, intending to overnight in Dipper Harbour, with the hope of passing through the Reversing Falls at flood tide tomorrow.

150607_st_george1St. George

We were greeted by Mary Anne Langmaid and others from St. Mark’s, St. George. After a walk into the town we shared supper together and then gathered for worship. Tomorrow we get a ride to the Church of the Transfiguration in Bethel where we will have Morning Prayer at 9 am. Then we begin the 18 km walk to Elmsville.

150607_st_george_kids150607_st_george_evening_prayer2

Good night and God Bless you.

+David

(For route and schedule details, click here)

Day 7

A foggy start
Swallow Tail Lighthouse from the water (really!)

Today I had an experience I have never had before. The day dawned foggy and misty on Grand Manan. After a lovely breakfast and Morning Prayer we said goodbye to the folks on the island and made our way to the wharf at North Head. There was little wind so we motored across the bay rather than sailed. The ocean was virtually flat calm, with a little swell at the middle of the journey. Suddenly I knew that my oatmeal and toast was not going to stay in my stomach. I guess there is a first time for everything. The good news is there are no photographs.

Head Harbour, Campobello
Head Harbour, Campobello

When we arrived in Campobello, as predicted the fog lifted and the sun broke through. As I write this evening it is a glorious time of the day, with the sun glinting off the water across the street from the Rectory. One interesting thing about this island is that there is no Rogers cell phone service, hence no Internet or wifi for me. If you are reading this on Saturday evening, it is because I have followed local advice and sat outside the library to hook into the free wireless there or failing that one of the motels to do the same.
Roosevelt Park

100 km mark
David and Trevor at 100 kms to date

Roosevelt's Cottage

This afternoon it was a great privilege for me to celebrate my first Home Communion for over three years. Bob Smith, the Interim Minister here, asked if I would visit Alice with him to give her the sacrament. She is the oldest parishioner in the congregation, though at 97 she does not get to church anymore. What a great lady, her mind is as sharp as a tack. It was marvellous to be able to minister to such a faithful follower of Jesus.

Evening PrayerEvening Prayer
Alice reminded me that in this Christian life we are to take the long view. God calls us to faithfulness and to use the opportunities he gives us in the different seasons of our lives. It is very easy to be downhearted about the things we can no longer do or the actions we wish we had taken. There is nothing we can do about that now. We need to realize that today is the day for action. What is God asking of us now and how has he equipped us for the task? I have to stop regretting what might have been and wishing for what might be. Rather I have to discover what is and how I can be faithful in it.

I trust you will have a blessed Resurrection Day tomorrow.

+David

(For route and schedule details, click here)

Day 6

Company along the way
A whole day on Grand Manan. It began with glorious sunshine, ended with drizzle and has turned somewhat cold. We walked nearly 20 kms today even though we were scheduled only to walk between 10 and 12. First of all we walked between the Anglican churches of Ascension and St. Paul’s, en route we called in at a dulse store to buy some of this island’s famous product for Gisele. It will be making its way back to the mainland with Cheryl on Sunday. Then nearly another 10 kms were added as we chose to walk to a parishioner’s house for a shower.

+David considering other means of travel
+David considering other means of travel

Another piece of good news is that our transport to Campobello has arrived and is safely tied up at the wharf in North Head. In fact Mike and his crew arrived at about 9.00 am this morning, but as we were out of cell phone range for part of the day we did not know they were there until about 4.30pm. The good folks here delivered them to our pot luck supper.
Supper at St. Paul's, Grand Harbour
We had other visitors today. Fr. Ranall Ingalls and his mother, Audrey, were here for a family funeral and dropped in for a while.

We have received great hospitality here and have laughed a good deal with the folks, but it is clear that the Anglican family and people more broadly have been greatly affected by the series of tragic events which happened on the island last year. As Bishop I am aware of how difficult it is for people to come to terms with their loss. There have been times today when I have not known how best to respond to the heartache I have seen. We live in a world which is broken and where God is working out his purpose, but it is so hard to see the way ahead when we are in the midst of it.

I was reminded of an event early in my ministry where I felt helpless and hopeless in the face of an unexpected death. As the newly minted minister I wanted to resolve the issues for the family. I shared with a more experienced friend my frustration with my lack of ability to do anything useful. He looked at me, smiled and said “Sometimes all that God requires is that we stand with people in the darkness”.

I really sense that we need the ministry of presence in this place at this time.

Good night and God bless.

+David

(For route and schedule details, click here)