I am in what can only be described as the Practice Phase of pilgrimage. I am testing everything now, well ahead of time, doing everything I can to make things easier for myself when it is time to walk.

We made a short local pilgrimage on Sunday to one of our favourite Sunday destinations, St. Peter’s-on the-Wall, a small chapel on the coast near Bradwell in Essex that was built by St. Cedd in 653 using materials from a ruined Roman fort. To get to the chapel, you park in a tiny car park and then walk down a track that leads through the fields to the chapel.

Behind the chapel, another path leads down to the coast where you can walk along the sea wall or drop down to the beach for for some beach-combing or even swimming when the tide is in. We merely walked this time, following the beach where we looked for shells, stones, and small critters, including jellyfish – all of which let me test my new hiking sandals and old walking poles on the sands and moss. It is always important to test your equipment and apparel in as many conditions as possible. I’m happy to say that my combination of toe socks and sandals are proving to be an unfashionable godsend for my tender toes, and my walking poles are still perfectly functional.

A path we didn’t take, leading out across the foreshore at low tide

While our purpose might have been to do a practice run (and even this post is my attempt to blog on the go, using only my phone – please forgive any layout messiness!), I remembered an important lesson: a pilgrimage is a pilgrimage. There really isn’t such a thing as a practice pilgrimage. The adjectives don’t matter as much as the pilgrim’s attitude and experience. Touching into this sacred spot and immersing ourselves in the natural world surrounding it took us directly into our hearts. With only the wind and water whispering into our ears, we had time to listen to ourselves and we returned home renewed.

12 thoughts on “Practice!

  1. So excited to be “walking” with you. What a lovely practice walk!

  2. I remember when Kelly and I went there with you and Jeff in 2015. It is a magical place. Thanks for sharing your practice and the formatting was perfect on my iPhone!

    1. What a wonderful spot! And I love this idea of no adjectives required — Yoda’s wisdom on pilgrimages, as it were. Reminds me of the same about prayer: my attitude and experience are the prayer, not any formal location, position or words.

  3. I too… remember going there with you, Jeff and Milton. Lifetimes ago. It continues to be a touchstone in my memories that I cherish. I love your word play on “practice and pilgrimage,” a pilgrimage itself! As always… I love walking in the world with you!

  4. So good to read this, Kimberly, and to see this photo. I was born and raised in Chelmsford, only leaving in my late teens. I have such a heart connection to the Essex coastal marshlands, including Bradwell and St Peters-on-the-Wall which I have visited many times. It is indeed a pilgrimage. A magical, windswept place, beautiful in the summer sunshine but equally atmospheric in winter.

    1. I love that! Bradwell was one of the first places Jeff took me when I came over for the first time, and we still go there fairly often – all year around. It took me a long time to fully appreciate the marshlands/estuary landscape, but now just going out there brings instant peace.

  5. I am so excited to see/hear/feel this pilgrimage through you!

  6. Oh yes indeed, the sweet gift of “wind and water whispering in our ears”…says everything! Listening to oneself is one of the beautiful gifts of pilgrimage…a beautiful reminder to me this morning as I read your words letting them drip steadily into my own heart and nourish my being…thank you

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