Now home from my pilgrimage to Lichfield and Llandeilo, I have a renewed awareness of how privileged I am to be able to undertake such long-distance walks which are sometimes in quite challenging terrain. I have even walked under Spaghetti Junction, one of the busiest motorway interchanges in Europe!
I also feel especially blessed to have been able to visit so many places of worship in very different situations. They’ve ranged from quiet, village churches in some of the most rural areas of England to a busy city church in Birmingham and to one of the oldest Quaker meeting houses in Britain.
However, one church that made a particular impression on me was Little Malvern Priory where a notice on the door greeted me with the words Welcome to this holy place. And in the silence of that holy place I did, indeed, feel welcome.
Praying as I do at all the churches and chapels I visit, it would perhaps be easy for me to put myself in the position of someone who ministers. And yet on this pilgrimage the opposite has been true and, time and again, I was ministered to by the places I visited as I was at Little Malvern Priory that day.
Sometimes this ministering was through prayers and other materials available for me to use, at other times it was in the calm silence and an awareness of God’s special presence. Also, although I was generally on my own, it included occasions when I was privileged to be able to join the regular worshippers. This varied from heart-felt hymn singing in a Valleys chapel to being able to participate in a special day of prayer at one of Wales’ most ancient churches.
Yes, I have been made welcome in some very holy places.