I am a big fan of the Game of Thrones. For those who are not GoT fans, the stories by George R.R. Martin include ‘The Wall’, a huge edifice protecting southerners from the dangerous monsters north of the Wall. (I’d just like to point out that I am on the south side of the Wall in this picture!)
The reason I tell you this is because the Wall in GoT was inspired by Hadrian’s Wall. I have been reading a bit about the people who guarded it, the auxiliary units made up of a mixture of people from across the empire and more locally. The old gods and the new are worshipped together. Few would choose to go to this Godforsaken outpost of the empire, the back of beyond, about as far as you could get from civilization in Rome.
Of course, many now choose to visit this beautiful part of the country. Today I was delighted to be joined on my Wall by family members from Leicester and London, some of whom are facing their own battles right now and so it was really special that they gave up time to come and walk. I was also joined by a friend from north of the border, a brother in faith, who I haven’t seen for ages and so it was very special to catch up, put the world to rights and to pray together.
But the big surprise was at Birdoswald where I saw again the party from Argentina I had met on day one at the Cathedral. Not only was it a joy to reconnect but also humbling to have Danny pray for me out on the Wall.
The sworn brothers of the Night’s Watch abandon their old lives to ‘take the black’. They form a new family based on the vows they have made and their common purpose to protect the Wall and guard against evil. They’ve got one another’s back. Our police and armed forces do a not dissimilar job, much of which goes unseen, and for which we should be grateful.
I had a wonderful company of ‘sworn brothers’ on the Wall today, people who have got my back just as Andy did when I was growing up, people who will love and protect me, who will pray for me and walk with me, and for whom I am grateful.
At the end of the day outside Greenhead Church, Nathan and I said evening prayer together in the warm late afternoon sun. I was reminded of the words of the evening service of compline which includes the prayer:
As the night watch looks for the morning
So do we look for you, O Christ.