Thursday, 3 November 2011

Green Pilgrimages

Lunch break on the Multifaith Eco-pilgrimage from Petersfield to Winchester in August 1987
(JA in dark green sweatshirt on top of the hill)

Have you ever been on a pilgrimage?

All journeys and holidays can be treated as a pilgrimage - but some events are especially special

It  is  25  years  ago  since  the Multifaith Pilgrimmage to Assisi  (in WWF's 25th year) when faiths got together to pray for peace but also for the environment. The Duke of Edinburgh was there.

25 years on there has been another big event at Assisi 31 Oct -2  Nov 2011- when  with the Duke of Edinburgh  the  Green Pilgrimages network -has been launched - more of that  another time (Radio 4 Sunday of 31 Oct - interview with Martin Palmer - 17 minutes in)

I  want to tell you about 1986 and more importantly, the two following years, 1987 and 1989.

I remember hearing about the multifaith event at Assisi in 1986 when I was  at Kindrogan Field Centre in Scotland in late summer (teaching grasses - or was it attending a mosses course?)  and  thinking "Oh, I would have liked to have gone on that" .

It  was  a year later that I was spending time in Lancaster for their "Green Festival Week". I  read about an organisation called Christian Ecology Group (now Link)  in the Catholic Cathedral   in   Lancaster   on   a   noticeboard.

And  at  that Festival I went to a talk by Martin Palmer held in the University Chaplaincy to which only about 14 people came.. He told us about the upcoming weekend multifaith pilgrimage walking from Petersfield to Winchester -culminating in a service in Winchester Cathedral.

I had been reading a book by Sean McDonagh (To Care for the Earth: Call to a New Theology Aug 1986)  - and seen an a colour supplement (? the Observer) in which he suggested that the church ought to have a Green Festival to Care about Creation.

"Ahah, Perhaps this is it!" I thought.

Four of us then arranged to pile into Rod and Jane Everett's car and to drive down to  Petersfield  to  the  Multifaith  Pilgrimmage  - Rod and Jane Everett of Middlewood Trust and another girl. We  drove down on the Friday. We walked  from Petersfield  to  Winchester  staying on the floor  in  a  church  Hall and a Sports pavilion overnight..

Walking and chatting

It was good meeting different people. Walking with someone is a good way to get to know people and to talk and listen about different faiths and concern about the environment. Then move on or drop behind and chat to someone else. One Buddhist monk told me how he was only allowed to have a small 1 bar electric fire (1/2 kw) and only allowed it a certain number of hours per day. or wasit one hour per day?

Ploughed downland

 The shapes of the rolling chalk downs were beautiful - but I noticed this because the ground was mostly ploughed up and  native grassland gone.

The sun shone. Towards the end of our journey we got our banners out.

Not far from Winchester now

We walked across a footbridge over the motorway and down into Winchester.
Over the motorway
A reception by people of the city welcomed us.
A reception by the people of Winchester city welcomed us. (You can see our Middle Wood Trust banner)

Then supper and bed on mattresses in a sports pavilion.

Next day at the cathedral on the Sunday there were lots more people. A school choir sang the beautiful song "The world is a garden you made"  - the first time that I had heard this song by Ann Conlon - and the tune SAMOS by Peter Rose.

(In fact it may have been written for WWF for this event. I have searched for it on Youtube but is is not there yet - after 25 years!!!. Josef Winberger have the copyright - I have the book and music should anyone I know want to borrow it.)

In the cathedral some of the Buddhist nuns meditated,  just sat there.

Several Faiths had produced booklets/statements about their faith and religion and about creation stories and some of these were launched at this event.

We returned home, the long drive up north to the Lancashire Yorkshire border..

I wrote off and joined Christian Ecology Link.


And  the  following  year  there  was  a  bigger  event at Canterbury, involving a (equivalent of CTBI) weekend conference ,  and a multifaith event.  Rod and Jane joined in a fortnight's pilgrimage leading up to the weekend. I just travelled down early and accompanied them for an extra two days before the weekend...

But I'll save description of this 1988 event  for another day.

Till then I'll just say I carried a CEL banner and Rev Nigel Cooper came and helped carry it.


Surely a pilgrimage to "Care for our world" and to say "Thank you God" for our world is about the most important pilgrimage there could be!!

See also follow up pilgrimage in 1989 to Canterbury

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