STAY AT HOME!
‘Stay at Home’ is the message of the moment. How we view this will dictate how we experience the days and weeks to come; effectively as ‘house arrest’ or a unique opportunity to explore what is immediately around us. This ‘Pilgrimage at Home’ is designed to make it a creative time.
A pilgrimage is a journey with a purpose and a goal in which our experiences on the way are as important as the final destination. Normally pilgrimage involves travelling to a place like Jerusalem or Rome or to the shrine of St. John here at Beverley. That is not open to us at the moment. But pilgrimage can be an inner journey that does not require us to leave home at all. This is such a pilgrimage created for the unique circumstances created by Covid-19.
SAVOURING NOT CONSUMING
We are a consumer society but a great deal of our freedom to consume has been curtailed during the present crisis. We can shop only for essentials; we cannot consume food or drink away from home and many of our usual sources of entertainment are closed to us. We cannot ‘consume’ places and attractions on holidays and days out. A huge challenge.
The alternative is to deepen our ability to savour things; to take time slowly to appreciate what is around us rather than just taking them for granted and passing by. As we learn to savour more we begin to discover God’s presence in the ordinary and everyday. That is the hope and prayer for this pilgrimage at and around your home. May it be a source of blessing and hope for you.
Traditionally pilgrims were blessed on setting off. Here is a prayer to use.
Lord Jesus, you are the Way, the Truth and the Life; so fill me with your Spirit on this pilgrimage that I may discover fresh delights and ever more reasons to praise you. Amen.
HOW TO START
Most of us are surrounded at home with many objects that hold memories or associations; pictures, photos, ornaments, pieces of furniture, books, items of jewellery etc. The pilgrimage aims to use these as triggers for memories, reflections and prayer.
Start anywhere around the house. You might like to light a candle to mark the beginning of a session. Take an object and focus on it. If it is a small one, sit with it in your hands. And then:
Look at it carefully; turn it over and over.
Think about how and by whom it might have been made. Give thanks to God for human skill and creativity.
If it is old, think how many hands it may have passed through before coming to you.
If someone gave it to you, think of them and when it was given. Whether they are still alive or not commend them to the love of God.
If you bought it on a holiday or to mark a special moment in your life reflect on where and when. Remember the place and its people also going through this Covid-19 crisis. Commend them to God’s keeping.
At some point let the focus of your thoughts begin to widen out from the object. Remember those who have no home. Remember those whose skills and livelihoods are suspended at the moment. That may include you or members of your family.
WITH FAMILY OR ALONE
Some of us will be at home with family, others living alone.
If you are alone why not make notes or share things on line or on the phone with friends and families. Your recollections may strike a happy chord with others. Any record of this period will be fascinating when it’s all over.
If you are at a home with family you could look at an object together or encourage members of your family to talk about their favourite objects about the house. You might be surprised!
Above all be flexible and adapt this pilgrimage idea to your own needs.
If you have a garden you can include that in your pilgrimage.
Simply look at what’s around you and appreciate its beauty. Take time to stop and look at an individual bloom.
Make a list of the flowers in bloom as you start and then go out each day and keep it up to date.
Do the same with the birds. You don’t have to be an ornithologist.
If you don’t have a garden you can still:
Look at trees etc growing near you and the buildings you can see.
List the birds you see.
Take time to enjoy the changing light, cloud formations etc
All of this can be turned into prayer especially prayers of thanksgiving for the wonder and beauty of creation.
A FINAL PRAYER
Be with us, merciful Father, through the difficult days ahead, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world may rest upon your changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.