Walking in the World

Monthly Archives: September 2016

An Essex Gem

copford_barn

While I was working on Tuesday evening, my sweetie was planning a Big Day Out to take advantage of Wednesday’s predicted good weather, probably one of the last warm days of 2016. Once the schools traffic had died down we drove out into the countryside, past picturesque buildings and farms. (Yes, that seriously cute barn really does have a thatched roof!)

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Our destination for the morning was the tiny village of Copford in northeast Essex. We’ve been researching some of the churches in the area, realising that some of them contain some very interesting and unique features. The parish church of St. Michael and All Angels is one of those gems. Constructed around 1130, the church was probably built as the chapel for the early Norman bishops.

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Exquisitely decorated, and famed for its stunning wall frescoes it manages to be both extremely beautiful and completely welcoming. There are some 34 works of religious scenes from the 12th century which cover most of the walls, including this amazing Zodiac panel arching overhead. Each image is its own little masterpiece:

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Similarly, the modern kneeling cushions are works of art in their own right, some of them replicating the scenes from the frescoes overhead.

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In addition,here are also small 20th century carvings on the choir benches that show the reverence the congregation still has for the small creatures of the natural world. I found these particularly touching in a way that brought balance to the magnificence of the ancient frescoes. For me, Spirit should permeate our daily lives as certainly as it does in our cathedral moments – and this little church manages to reflect the wholeness of Creation with its splendid artwork that bridges the centuries.

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Along with its art, this church clearly houses an active and interesting congregation.The informational signs are welcoming and stand amongst indicators of regular worship and fellowship activities, including my favourite, Father Fred’s bookshelf where donated books are offered to new readers for a small donation to the church. I felt welcome.

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29 Sep 2016

Vanessa atalanta

red_admiral_butterfly

Summer is drawing to a close so we won’t be seeing many more of these little beauties this year, but we’ve found this Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) huddled outside our office window several times lately, just out of camera shot. Today, though, Jeff caught her flying into the garden and snapped a quick photo when she landed in the ivy. Their flashy colouring makes them easy to spot and fun to see.

Some Red Admirals do hibernate, so I am harbouring the hope that she will survive the winter in some protected place.  Butterflies in general are symbols of transformation, and unexpected sightings like this draw my attention inwards as I check in with myself about where I am in my own ongoing cycle of transformation. Seeing Vanessa this week reminds me of the importance of sharing the colors and joy of my creations with the world.

What does she say to you?

 

27 Sep 2016

Layers of Pilgrimage

pilgrimstad

I didn’t mean to be a tease. When I last posted, I was heading off on pilgrimage, full of intentions to blog my journey. Oh when am I going to learn? Pilgrimage inevitably takes on a life of its own that has very little to do with intentions and goals. By Day Two, it was clear that blogging was going to distract me from my path, and the further I traveled, the less inclined I was to connect to technology at the end of the day.

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Fortunately for me, I dropped more and more deeply into the unfolding layers of my journey. Unfortunately for my readers, I disappeared from cyberspace without warning or explanation. For weeks.

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I’m home now, slowly unpacking my experiences and insights. It was a pilgrimage of pilgrimages as we moved on and across a number of pilgrimage routes in both Sweden and France. Each one felt unique and enticing, each continues to call to me. Along the way, we acquired passports, met fellow pilgrims and kindred spirits, and were inspired by the saints in whose footsteps we followed.

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And who can be the same after an experience like that?

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I don’t think I can recreate a day-by-day travelogue for you, and to even attempt it moves away from the immediacy that defines this particular blog. And yet I really want to share some of the magic of my travels with you. So, I’ve decided to indulge in a bit of time-travelling hopscotch. I’m going to stay current by posting some of my daily walks, but I’ll also weave in a few posts about the highlights of our pilgrimage. Watch this space!

26 Sep 2016

New Friends, Old Stories

We are having a wonderful journey, deeply profound for both of us,  on many levels.

We arrived in Vaplan, Sweden, yesterday afternoon. Lisa’s father was born here, and is obviously still well regarded and deeply loved, and his family is delighted that his daughter is visiting. Being a witness to this family reunion has been a moving  experience for me, which I will say more about in due course. The stories I’m hearing are like precious beads on the string of life. 

Today we spent a lovely day visiting the area in the company of his cousin, Bengt, and his wife, Marianne, who are hosting us for these few days. In addition to feeding us phenomenally good food, they have shown us beautiful lakes and waterfalls, ancient petroglyphs, a ski mountain, and taken us to lunch at an organic restaurant set inside a greenhouse…  and so much more. 

02 Sep 2016

Setting Forth

Another adventure begins! Jeff and I drove around the dreaded M25 to rendezvous with my long-time pilgrimage companion, Lisa Moriarty. Jeff will keep the home fires burning while Lisa and I head off on a multifaceted pilgrimage to Sweden and France.

Today was simply about catching up on our deep friendship and reestablishing the rhythms that let us travel together so successfully. We began by returning to the Watts Chapel and Gallery in Compton for lunch and a visit to the art centre that never fails to stir the soul.

Visiting the pilgrim cross that Mary Watts erected alongside the old pilgrim route to Canterbury seems the perfect start to any pilgrimage.

As usual, we found new art nestled in amongst the old, a testament to the vitality of the Watts foundation and its commitment to fostering new generations of artists. 

Further up the road, we visited the Watts Chapel with its lavish colour and symbolism.  

The red building looked splendid against the deep blue sky, and the angels with their labyrinths offered departure blessings for our own journey.

Returning to the maze that is Heathrow, we settled into our hotel for a quiet evening of fine dining and pre-pilgrimage dreaming.

01 Sep 2016

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