An unexpected change in my life occured in 2022. I had been living quite contentedly without faith for round about twenty years and I had no plans to change that. I had also made walking the major theme for my retirement. While reading around the subject and dreaming of the walks I could do I came across those who were talking about pilgrimage. It seemed to be broadly defined as walking to a particular destination with an intention and the idea stayed in the back of my mind.

The catalyst for change was the tragic illness and death of my dearest friend in April and May of 2022. During my daily visits while he was in the hospice I was there when the chaplain came to give him communion. When asked if I wanted to stay and share this them I said yes – it was such an easy decision to make, yet one based not on rational thought but raw emotion of my heart. Thinking back now it was out of my love for John and the desire to share every significant moment I could in the time we had left. Whatever the reason was it opened up my life to faith and begun my current pilgrim journey.

It was a few days later I think when I had a day off from visiting and I woke up early and on impulse decided to make a pilgrimage, to walk from home to Durham Cathedral. I had previously scoped out the route but hadn’t planned to do it in one go as it was further than I had typically walked. But by 6.30am I was out of the door and on my way. As I walked John was in my thoughts as were some words which I had noticed from that days Morning Prayer. In your unfailing love, O Lord, you lead the people whom you have redeemed. And by your invincible strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. You will bring them in and plant them, O Lord, in the sanctuary which your hands have established. It was a great walk and despite blisters I made it to the cathedral in the early afternoon.

I walked to St Cuthbert’s shrine behind the choir and sat. I couldn’t walk any further but as I sat there I began to talk to St Cuthbert all the while my rational brain was telling me not to be so stupid as even if he was there he’s been dead hundreds of years. It was such a profound moment I realised then that somehow I had found faith again. Not the faith I had left behind but something which just felt so right.

The next day I told John and the chaplain all about my pilgrimage and how I had told St Cuthbert all about him. As I left the chaplain gave me a piece of paper withese these words ..

Lord of every pigrim heart,
bless our journeys on these roads
we never planned to take,
but through your suprising wisdom
discovered we were on


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