Why Pilgrimage?

Quakers seek love and truth everywhere; we say that anywhere can be a place of encounter with deepest reality, with the divine, with mystery and wonder. 

Looking back over the last year, moments which to me were profoundly holy took place in a colleague’s garden, a hospice patient’s room, at home on Zoom, and in the Quaker Burial Ground in Bath.   

If all places can be sacred, why go on pilgrimage?

For me, the day to day reality is that although I could seek love and truth everywhere, most of the time I don’t; although each moment and each place is, at some deep level, holy (we might say, a place and time where God is present), most of the time I don’t notice. I’m too caught up in my own preoccupations, the familiar hamster wheels of my mind.

Making a mini pilgrimage is a way of intentionally looking up from those preoccupations, setting aside time to be, to notice, to connect – much like the Quiet Days Bath Quakers have enjoyed over the years.

The physical act of walking a long way, especially in pleasant countryside, helps me find  inner stillness and clarity. Big horizons are refreshing. Historic sites, with a sense of generations gone before, put my life into a healthier perspective. As the verse on the carved way mark at the end of the Cotswold Way at Bath Abbey puts is:

Stand ye in the ways and see
Ask for the old paths, wherein is the good way
And walk therein
And ye shall find rest for your souls

Jeremiah 6:16

This year I’m helping organise the Dorothy House Hospice Care and Bath Interfaith Group walking pilgrimage to Bath Abbey on Sat 18th Sept. You can choose between an all-day, 12 mile route starting in Keynsham or an afternoon only, 5 mile route starting on Lansdown. Come and join us – book your place here.

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