The Interfaith Contact Group
The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group

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A Pilgrim Spirit in the Lockdown

November 11, 2020

A pilgrimage confirms one’s spiritual commitment, and is a path to self-discovery, whether the journey is physical and takes one to Mecca, Bethlehem of Char Dham, or whether it’s simply an inspired journey of the mind. Spiritual self-discovery is a bit of a challenge in lockdown, but the human spirit can thrive on challenge. 

 

This week’s Words of Connection is an invitation to make our own pilgrimage… to light a candle and read some prayers of pilgrimage and also poetry recalling spiritual journeys, ending with a reminder of the peace of home and the hearthside.

We open with two pilgrimage prayers. This is followed with a graceful blessing “For the Traveller” by John O’Donohue. We then have two poems by John Masefield – words of passion by a poet very much in love with travel, and with strong beliefs about the continuity of the soul. We close with a short reminder of the fascination of distant lands, and maybe the best choice in the end – one’s home. This closing poem is by Dorothy Parker.

Lastly I would like to invite you to take a four minute pilgrimage, flying over our most beautiful Sussex and Hampshire countryside. It’s a short film entitled The South Downs by Air.

Once more, thank you for your support and real enthusiasm. Words of Connection is for you, and it will continue to appear every week during this strange and difficult time… carrying the hope that it serves a spiritual role in your life.

Very best wishes,

Anthea
Chair IFCG

 

PILGRIM PRAYER
Thomas Merton

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen

 

PILGRIM’S PRAYER FROM LA FABA ON THE CAMINO TO SANTIAGO (FOUND AT O CEBREIRO) 

Although I may have travelled all the roads, crossed mountains and valleys from East to West, if I have not discovered the freedom to be myself, I have arrived nowhere.

Although I may have shared all my possessions with people of other languages and cultures; made friends with Pilgrims of a thousand paths, or shared hostels with saints and princes, if I am not capable of forgiving my neighbour tomorrow, I have arrived nowhere.

Although I may have carried my pack from beginning to end and waited for every Pilgrim in need of encouragement, or given my bed to one who arrived later than I,
given my bottle of water in exchange for nothing;

if upon return to my home and work,
I am not able to create brotherhood
or to make happiness, peace and unity, I have arrived nowhere.

Although I may have had food and water each day, and enjoyed a roof and shower every night;
or may have had my injuries well attended,
if I have not discovered in all that the love of God, I have arrived nowhere.

Although I may have seen all the monuments
and contemplated the best sunsets;
although I may have learned a greeting in every language or tasted the clean water from every fountain;
if I have not discovered who is the author
of so much free beauty and so much peace,
I have arrived nowhere.

If from today I do not continue walking in your path, searching and living according to what I have learned; if from today I do not see in every person, friend or foe a companion on the Camino;
if from today I cannot recognize God,
the God of Jesus of Nazareth
as the one God of my life,
I have arrived nowhere.

 

BLESSING FOR THE TRAVELLER
John O’Donohue

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

 

TWO POEMS  BY JOHN MASEFIELD

TRADE WINDS

In the harbour, in the island, in the Spanish Seas,
Are the tiny white houses and the orange trees,
And day-long, night-long, the cool and pleasant breeze
Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.
There is the red wine, the nutty Spanish ale,
The shuffle of the dancers, the old salt’s tale,
The squeaking fiddle, and the soughing in the sail
Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.
And o’ nights there’s fire-flies and the yellow moon,
And in the ghostly palm-trees the sleepy tune
Of the quiet voice calling me, the long low croon
Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.

CREED

I hold that when a person dies
His soul returns again to earth;
Arrayed in some new flesh-
Another mother gives him birth.
With sturdier limbs and brighter brain
The old soul takes the road again.
Such is my own belief and trust;
This hand, this hand that holds the pen,
Has many a hundred times been dust
And turned, as dust, to dust again;
These eyes of mine have blinked and shown
In Thebes, in Troy, in Babylon.
All that I rightly think or do,
Or make, or spoil, or bless, or blast,
Is curse or blessing justly due
For sloth or effort in the past.
My life’s a statement of the sum
Of vice indulged, or overcome.
I know that in my lives to be
My sorry heart will ache and burn,
And worship, unavailingly,
The woman whom I used to spurn,
And shake to see another have
The love I spurned, the love she gave.
And I shall know, in angry words,
In gibes, and mocks, and many a tear,
A carrion flock of homing-birds,
The gibes and scorns I uttered here.
The brave word that I failed to speak
Will brand me dastard on the cheek.
And as I wander on the roads
I shall be helped and healed and blessed;
Dear words shall cheer and be as goads
To urge to heights before unguessed.
My road shall be the road I made;
All that I gave shall be repaid.
So shall I fight, so shall I tread,
In this long war beneath the stars;
So shall a glory wreathe my head,
So shall I faint and show the scars,
Until this case, this clogging mould,
Be smithied all to kingly gold.

 

HEARTHSIDE
Dorothy Parker

Half across the world from me
Lie the lands I’ll never see-
I, whose longing lives and dies
Where a ship has sailed away;
I, that never close my eyes
But to look upon Cathay.

Things I may not know nor tell
Wait, where older waters swell;
Ways that flowered at Sappho’s tread,
Winds that sighed in Homer’s strings,
Vibrant with the singing dead,
Golden with the dust of wings.

Under deeper skies than mine,
Quiet valleys dip and shine.
Where their tender grasses heal
Ancient scars of trench and tomb
I shall never walk: nor kneel
Where the bones of poets bloom.

If I seek a lovelier part,
Where I travel goes my heart;
Where I stray my thought must go;
With me wanders my desire.
Best to sit and watch the snow,
Turn the lock, and poke the fire.

 

 

 

 

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