Why I am walking – again

It hardly seems possible that nearly a year has gone by since Trevor, Irene and I drove out of McAdam, heading for Saint John having completed the 2015 pilgrimage. Now we are on the verge of heading to the Miramichi and North Shore. Unlike last year we have a better idea of the physical demands that walking will involve and I have been in training since before Christmas, unlike last year when I just turned up.

For me the pilgrimage has two main elements: having time to spend with God; and the opportunity to meet people along the way. What I discovered last time was that the structure of walking and resting meant that I was much more disciplined in my prayer and study times than I am usually. It is interesting that since then I have felt the need to be much more accountable to myself and God about tending to my soul.

You may wonder what I mean by that. Day to day much of our effort goes into tending to our physical and material well-being. In addition many of us spend a great deal of time thinking about how we respond to the many situations which come our way. At times it can feel as if we are in a video game with hoards of alien spacecraft coming towards us.

On last year’s walk I found that everything slowed down and I was able to look more deeply inwards than usual. In my imagination I visualized it as moving through a very tangled wood and suddenly coming upon a sunlit pool. It is an encounter with the God who is there.
So often in our worship we focus outwards. We sing out to the Lord, we speak out prayers, we take up postures of kneeling, sitting or standing. There is nothing wrong with any of this, but if we do not take time to ponder, rest and listen then we miss the deeper moments with God. It is at these times that we are able to share our soul wounds with God. To thank him for his love and grace and just to be in his presence.

It is in essence loitering without purpose. So much of what we do in our worship is driven by the tyranny of words, time and agenda. Our lives have become machine like, what am I getting out because of what I put in? Spiritual health is about relationship with God and is centred upon peace. Perhaps we all have to have to courage to step off our particular treadmills and seek out the quiet place, the desert place, for the health of the soul.

David

Get your walking shoes ready!

Bishop David’s second annual pilgrimage, through the Archdeaconry of Chatham, will begin Sunday, May 29, with an evening service in the Parish of Derby and Blackville, and end Sunday, June 12, with a celebration service in the Parish of Restigouche. Please stay tuned for more details and plan to join the bishop for some or all of a day or many days.

Why I am going walking

From May 31 until June 14 I intend to be walking. It will be the first of my archdeaconry walks and I will be travelling through the Archdeaconry of St. Andrews.

It is my plan to walk through all our archdeaconries during the next few summers. This year I will being with a Confirmation service at the Church of the Resurrection in Grand Bay and two weeks later arrive in McAdam.

I will be delighted if people are able to join me for all or part of the journey or if they meet me at the churches along the route to pray.

Why am I doing this?

There are several reasons, all of them equally important.

The first is that I have been called to be Bishop of the Diocese of Fredericton, which is the province of New Brunswick.  Throughout our history the Anglican Church has seen itself as responsible for the geographical area in which it is set and the people who live there.  Walking will give me the chance to see the land and meet people whom I would not usually come across.

As well, there will be time for reflection.  Walking will mean I have to slow down and it will give me time to ponder.

In addition, there will be set prayer times along the route.  A rhythm of saying the Offices morning and evening will be established and anyone with us at those times can join in.

Walking with people means that we come to know each other, the good and the bad.  For those of us walking there will be plenty of time for fellowship.

There will also be opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with those we meet.  This is not solely intended to be a walk, but also to be a mission.  In essence we will be heading out on a journey, uncertain as to how God might use us, but knowing that he will.

There is also a major faith component.  Apart from the question about whether or not I will be able to complete the journey, there is also the question of what God will allow to happen along the way.  We see from scripture that when Jesus and/or his disciples set out on journeys, there were always unexpected encounters – Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, the wealthy young man and many more.  Jesus was not ready for these meetings and he responded very differently in each situation, but he treated each as a God-given opportunity to share the good news of the Kingdom.

Things will also be learned.  New parts of the province will be discovered by the team.  Not rushing by in a vehicle will mean we can see what we might usually miss.  We will discover greater depth in each other and great depths in God.

It is my hope that you will give prayerful consideration to joining me in June for all or part of this adventure in the south-west corner of our diocese.