One thing I am finding it hard to get away from is the sense that my #walk4andy is no longer just a walk but a pilgrimage. The idea was sown in my mind by our local Catholic priest who rang me after reading about the walk to offer me sponsorship from the church’s Pilgrimage Fund. That was deeply humbling and left me wondering whether he was right.
I have known for some time that the journey is going to be not just physically challenging but also very emotional. And for that reason, I’m thankful that I won’t be alone for much of the time. Lots of friends and family have been contacting me in the last week or so to offer their companionship on the journey for a day or two. It will be wonderful to see some faces I haven’t seen for many years, and maybe even to meet new ones.
But even on the days when I am walking by myself, I won’t be alone. I will be walking with Andy every step of the way. He will be in my thoughts and prayers, my inspiration, throughout. And as I learn from the peace he found trusting that God was there walking with him through the challenges he faced, I will be praying that I and others will know God’s presence and the companionship of the risen Jesus – #thykingdomcome.
The Romans on the Wall would have understood the implications of the word ‘companion’ – cum pane – literally ‘with bread’. Companions were those you shared your bread with. It will be very special for me to begin the whole #walk4andy by breaking bread with other Christians at Carlisle Cathedral on Ascension Day. It’s one of those times when I feel very aware of those who have done the same before me and those who are doing the same thing hundreds of miles away. There is a strong sense of being united in the bread we share.
Back at St Denys in Evington my companions in faith will also be sharing bread and maybe even some sparkling wine on Thursday morning to celebrate Jesus’ ascension, before they set off on their own prayer walks round the parish, one in the Spirit, wherever we are.