Spending weeks and sometimes months of each year walking on pilgrimage, I have covered thousands of miles on foot to lots of very special and often well-known places. Ancient Christian sites such as St David’s in west Wales, Glendalough in Ireland and the great cathedral at Winchester need little introduction.
But along the way I come across all sorts of opportunities to draw closer to God in locations that, in contrast, might seem very ordinary and could be easy to overlook or pass by.
One such example was during my recent pilgrimage to and from St Albans. Walking in west London and heading for the towpath of the Grand Union Canal which would take me towards the centre of the city, I noticed a contemporary church building surrounded by some quite long grass. However, in the middle of this rather overgrown patch, a small white notice caught my attention. Investigating further, I read the following;
You are welcome to take a journey around this labyrinth. As you slowly walk to the centre point, think about yourself, your friends, family and neighbours. When you reach the centre, give thanks to God for making you the lovely person you are. When you leave the labyrinth, take the peace you found with you and share it.
Looking closer, I could see that the winding path of a labyrinth was just visible and, unable to resist such an invitation, I put down my backpack for a while and walked in the way that I had so unexpectedly found before me; it was a wonderful few minutes!
It can be all too easy to focus on the longer journeys and the big names but, in reality, God is always ready to meet with us. Even as here, on a quiet housing estate in contemporary suburbia, we can take a short break from our everyday concerns and regain a sense of trust, thankfulness and peace. Having been reminded of God’s working in our lives and our preciousness to him, we can be renewed as we return to our communities, friends and neighbours.
You are welcome to take a journey…