To Be A Pilgrim
In this article, originally published in this term's News from Ridley, four final-year students reflect on a journey of prayer and friendship.
As we hobbled the last six miles of our pilgrimage, we all agreed that the most profound thing to come out of our time at Ridley would be the relationships which had formed.
The prayer quad (or prayer square) had been meeting as a trio for a year, and acquired an additional member a year ago. We met two or more times a week for coffee, croissants, prayer, accountability, encouragement and laughter. As our relationships grew into a lifelong prayer and accountability group, it was felt that our pre-ordination retreat should include a physical challenge. The Pilgrim’s Way was chosen, Farnham to Canterbury.
This 14-day walk was going to be impossible though, as with twelve and half children between us, we simply couldn’t give up the time, so we decided to up the ante, and complete the 114 miles in 5 days.
We trained hard, each struggled in different ways but felt immensely blessed by the time we spent as pilgrims. The strenuous physicality of the long days (27 miles on day one, with the same gradient as climbing Snowdon) seemed to aid the spiritual reflection. We prayed together, alone, reflected on scripture, on ourselves, on the journey ahead as we start curacies. We finished at Canterbury Cathedral with evening prayer, a special pilgrim’s service and the Eucharist. Being a cathedral, there was a lot of standing up and sitting down (not an easy job after a long walk). As we sat, just the four of us, in the crypt with the Dean, who prayed for us, it was the most significant ending to a journey, yet at the same time just the beginning.
Ben Topham, Pete Wynter, Steve Burston and Sid Bridges all graduated from Ridley Hall this summer