from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet

I’m not sure yet what to say about our pilgrimage on St Cuthbert’s Way to Holy Island this week, so instead, I think I’ll just post some photos that help to tell the story of our three-generational, 63-mile walk.

I’m mulling over a couple of things that surprised me, though. I couldn’t quite believe it myself, but there was hardly any complaining on our walk, despite some very long days and some patches of heavy rain. That was, until the very last bit, the part of the journey I’d most been looking forward to, when we walked across the sands on the pilgrim’s path to Holy Island.

For some reason, in my mind, that part was going to feel mystical as we walked across where the sea had been, only a few hours before, to the island, following the ancient pilgrim route. But that was the very moment that the complaining set in – literally on our final 3 miles. Why?

The other thing that surprised me was how sad I was that it was over. I haven’t done 7 consecutive days of walking in a long time and there were moments when it was quite physically demanding. I was expecting to feel happily relieved as we made it to our destination. Instead, I didn’t want it to be over.

Perhaps part of what lies behind both of these things is that this week we were caught up uniquely in a shared purpose and that it felt good to be pulling together towards the same goal. When that began to disappear, we didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves.

We used a Celtic prayer this week with the words ‘from the crown of my head, O Trinity, to the soles of my feet, mine offering be’. Involving all of ourselves this week and doing so together has been amazing.




















12091213_10207625903868501_2918391643308898138_oMaybe my standards are slipping, or maybe that’s just what happens when life gets busy, but I am nowhere near as tidy as I used to be. I’m telling myself this morning that this OK, that there are other things that are more important than sorting through the accumulated stuff on the kitchen table.

I’m backed up in this by Psalm 84 which describes ‘God’s house’ which is majestic and beautiful in every way also as a place where ‘birds find nooks and crannies… and sparrows and swallows make nests’ laying eggs and raising young, ‘singing their songs in the place where we worship.’ Nice in some ways, but what a mess!

I can understand how some people really value order and organisation (and I’m a little bit jealous, really) but I have a sneaking suspicion that God’s not as much of a fan of neat and tidy as we sometimes think. Mike Pilavachi is known for saying ‘it’s messy in the nursery, and neat and tidy in the graveyard’. If things are messy, maybe there are potential signs of life.

As adults, we get used to presenting a sorted-out front, with a neatly crafted ‘Linked in’ profile and a shiny car (or house. It is a matter of contention here whether a clean car or house is more important).

One of the things that I love about young people is that categories are sometimes more blurred; different bits of life leak into one another more obviously. Because, maybe, life feels messier to them in the first place, they are more open to explore, reflect and ponder.

I was in Whitby at the weekend with a fantastic group of young people, where we spent an hour on the beach one morning. We went off on our own with a Psalm, some questions and a sand-drawn labyrinth. That was it. And yet I sensed that God met each of us there in the mess of wet sand, dog-walkers and seaweed.

It might be a stretch, but I too want to see more of God in the mess.