We took a photo on Friday evening - a reunion of pilgrims.
Pilgrims who once upon a time had ventured to fly to the UK solely to walk 100 miles. And make it an intentional walking with God.
One told my husband, “It changed my life. I’d tell anyone to go take a Pilgrimage.”
There were twelve of us gathering for dinner - an evening in the most amazing home in California,just south of the Napa valley.
A gathering of people like you - people who love the Lord, people who long to go deeper with God.
People who are busy with their lives. Weary from everyday life. But still longing to go deeper with God.
And as we reminisced about Pilgrimage, we knew that we had gradually lost something we'd found when walking.
Because vision leaks. Life takes over. And we wistfully look back at times when we have been close to God; times when we have clearly heard His Voice; moments when we felt ourselves near to Him; journeys we knew to be in step with Him. We yearn for that closeness to return; long to hear the still small voice again; remember with longing the joy and love we experienced when we first knew Him.
Sometimes it happens unexpectedly again. Joining with others in a moment of worship. Being prayed for. Glimpsing the rise of a powerful moon in a pinkly grey sky.
But sometimes we even forget that we yearn for more of Him. We are people who live life busily, every moment in our schedules accounted for, crazily careering from one moment to the next.
We are people who often forget to live our lives with eternity in mind.
Maybe we need to walk a mile or three to reconnect with God. Maybe we need to rediscover a rhythm of walking which rests and clears the mind, helping to shed the everyday problems or see them from a different perspective. Being physically active all the time, meeting the challenges of the ups and downs, knowing the accomplishment of a long day of travel and arriving tired but triumphant after depending on God and one's companions to get there.
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The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. "
(Psalm 32:8; NLT)
We need to get on that pathway. Get walking so that the Lord can guide. And sometimes making a pilgrimage is a really good way to do that. Doing it physically enables it to happen spiritually.
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We're offering two pilgrimages in 2014: walking the Via Francigena, the old pilgrim route which traces a path from Canterbury to Rome. In late May/early June (dates depending on when people like you would like to come!) we will walk from Montalcino to Viterbo, a walk described as "one of the world's most unique, classic walks .... South of Montalcino the country becomes wilder, with forests, low plateaux and Monte Amiata and the wide crater of Lake of Bolsena."
In very early September, the pilgrimage will be from San Gimignano to Montalcino, the walk we did in 2013. A glorious, Tuscan trail, characterised by paths through vineyards, olive groves and forest, and landscapes punctuated with cypress trees and walled hill towns and villages.
These Pilgrimages are exhilarating, demanding, Spirit-filled times. Mountain top experiences, literally and spiritually. Designed with people like you in mind.
If you would like to know more, ask to be put on the mailing list (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) and be one of the first to get the full details. Each walk has a total of just 12 people so register your interest now so that you can be sure of your place.
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And if you'd rather walk in the glorious English Cotswolds, come on one of the walking retreats at The Vine at Mays Farm. Details of the first one in March 2014 can be found here.
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People like you, people like me - We are people who often forget to live our lives with eternity in mind.
Walking a pilgrimage can help to restore that balance.
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