Following St. Cuthbert’s Way
This summer I had the opportunity to go on a pilgrimage with two of my sisters and a friend, following St. Cuthbert’s Way on the borderlands of Scotland and England, walking 67 miles. That’s 188,789 steps walking through gorgeous scenery, being inspired by the life of St. Cuthbert – a monk, bishop and hermit who lived in the 600s. He loved the poor, cared for animals and the environment and worked for church unity in times of division and disintegration. Even while sensing a calling to live a life as a hermit, he would be called back into ministry, once even by the King, to lead a church that was being pulled in many directions.
He was beloved by rich and poor alike. I was inspired to work for unity, to find the messy middle way. To seek God and have that inform my daily life instead of living my life and telling God what I want him to do about it. Here are some lessons I learned while walking for days at a slow pace.
After hours and hours of walking, you can just get into a numbed trudging. It was important to look where you’re stepping. But then you remember that there’s beauty around, so you should look up. But you must STOP to gawk or you will certainly trip.
There are bits of beauty around us. Even in challenging times like grief and loss, it’s ok to experience beauty. So stop the trudging, look up, find beauty.
Let the mountain come to you
On the dreadful elevation gain sections, it was challenging to keep going. A friend had told me to just take small steps and “let the mountain come to you”. It can be tempting to think you need to take big steps to complete the climb, but small steps are actually better.
So do the next thing. The Holy Spirit prompts us to good deeds and sometimes those are small acts of kindness. Start a conversation with a neighbor. Make a meal for someone in need.
Each day as we walked, someone would read a Psalm and recite a prayer. We would take a time of silence. We stopped chit-chatting and commenting on what was around us. Extended times of not talking allowed for listening to nature and the Holy Spirit.
There are many ways to be with Jesus, but it does take intentionality. Put yourself in the position of being ready to listen to God.
In whatever part you play in reaching the unreached – whether you’ve received the call to go and multiply disciples and churches, you’re blessing the mission financially or covering it all in prayer – remember to “stop and gawk,” “let the mountain come to you,” and “include God every step of the way.”