Rev Dilys reports on the positive and enjoyable experience she had during her summer pilgrimage
We’ve had a glorious summer this year which has redressed the balance of the earlier wetter months of the year Hopefully there will be some more warm and sunny days still to come.
Once again I set aside time to join a pilgrimage to Walsingham in Norfolk. For those of you that are not familiar with Walsingham it is the home of the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
A holy place
For nearly a 1,000 years pilgrims and visitors have brought their prayers and hopes to Walsingham and many have found peace, comfort, healing and the knowledge of God's love here. The village itself comprises a collection of holy places, both ancient and modern, and embracing different Christian traditions.
Over the last few years the shrine complex, including beautiful gardens, have undergone renovation and refurbishment so that the standard of accommodation is of the highest quality. There are facilities and access for the disabled and the refectory (for residents) and cafe bar (open to the public) serve delicious meals and snacks.
The sense of peace and tranquillity that pervades the atmosphere is some thing that has to be experienced.
Worship in the Shrine church is from the 'high end' of the Anglo- Catholic tradition, but all arc made to feel comfort able and welcome.
I have been very privileged to have been asked to take part in the main healing service that is always offered for visitors and also to lead the 'Stations of the Cross' procession for the small group of pilgrims that I went with.
As you may not be aware, women priests are not allowed to offer sacra mental ministry within the Shrine church, but I felt warmly acknowledged for what I could assist with and maybe this is the acceptance that will develop over time. It is a place where male leadership is preserved and respecting that position but quietly being present helps the trust and acceptance to grow.
Come with an open mind
Today, countless people of all back grounds and ages make their way to Walsingham to discover for themselves what this unique place has to offer.
The style of worship will not be perhaps your own, but I do say to anyone wishing to visit, let God come to you and the difference of style will not be a barrier to full participation.
The ethos of Walsingham is to try very hard 'to form a community of one mind and heart, united in the common love of the Lord'.
The surrounding countryside and coastal area is another reason for making the journey. Those high East Anglian skies with cloud formations to marvel at all speak of the Creator's hand. Whether it's seal watching, walking, or just taking time to 'relax and be', it's a great way to spend a few days away from it all.
As we move into autumn and harvest time I will remember the great swathes of golden fields of wheat waiting to be harvested and thank God for his bountiful gifts not least the seasonal changes that provide for our needs.