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Viewpoint from Rev Helen Lynch 16/04/2021

HELEN LYNCHAssistant Curate
Great Yarmouth Team Ministry
St Paul’s + St Nicholas Minster + St Mary’s


There has recently been a revival of interest in pilgrimage - you may have seen the television series following the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. The Camino has seen an explosion in numbers over the last few years. What are people looking for on a pilgrimage, and what are they finding there?
 

Today is the feast of St Bernadette, whose vision of Jesus’ mother Mary, prompted the building of a shrine at Lourdes, in the South of France. Since that time millions have made pilgrimage there; to pray, to ask for healing, and to gather with other pilgrims to worship. Lourdes is a relatively new destination for pilgrims; St Bernadette lived in the nineteenth century. Our own Norfolk pilgrimage centre of Walsingham first welcomed spiritual seekers nearly a thousand years ago
 
dove leftWe’ve just had the census, and I’m sure there will be another rise in the number of ‘nones’ - that is people who don’t see themselves as people of faith. Yet I’m sure there will be some ‘nones’ walking alongside nuns on those pilgrim routes to Santiago, Walsingham, and even Lourdes. There is something in pilgrimage which takes everyone outside of themselves, whatever their background and beliefs
 
For me, pilgrimage is as much about the journey as the destination. As you follow the route, putting one slightly sore foot in front of the other, you are forced to slow down, to get up close to the wonders of creation, to connect with your fellow pilgrims. You notice the sun tracking across the sky, you can poke your nose into tiny, almost forgotten churches, have a little chat with the livestock in the fields
 
Dove rightStrangely, by undertaking that forward movement, you find a stillness inside yourself. I think this is one of the attractions of pilgrimage for the new breed of twenty-first century pilgrims. You don’t need to be religious to understand yourself as a spiritual being, and undertaking a pilgrimage helps you to nurture and explore your spirituality. We all search for meaning in our lives, and the culture and history of the church can be a barrier to some people. Pilgrimage is a great leveller, we can all travel along together, learning from one another, eating and reflecting together. Listening out for the still small voice of God

also published in the Great Yarmouth Mercury

 


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