Saturday, 14 June 2008

Some thoughts from the jacuzzi!

After a longish Synod (which finished early and again I wonder why the heck they bother with a Saturday morning session), there is no better way of unwinding than a leisurely sauna and jacuzzi. While I was hitting the bubbles and they me, I mused on what the week ahead holds. I'm off on Wednesday with a mixed group of Anglicans and RC's on Pilgrimage to Walsingham. I've been going since 1992 and have been at least once a year since then. Part of me wonders why. It was perfectly explicable when I was a full metal jacket "nae wifie priests" Anglo-Catholic - it was "our" place and did "our" kind of liturgy. But now that I accept the ordination of women, why do I keep on returning?

Well, much as I enjoy smells and bells, it's not that. Two things do it for me. The healing and the place. Walsingham and its holy well has always been associated with healing and the Sunday afternoon liturgy with sprinkling, laying on of hands and anointing gets me every time at a level and in a way that processions of the statue (aka taking mother for a walk!) and even Benediction doesn't. And this year there will be a lot of things for me to take there for healing and prayer. Losing dad, Mum and my depression/booze problems - tomorrow is Father's Day and the 1st time I haven't had to remember not to forget to buy a present, as all those damn posters keep reminding me - the Anglican Communion, a friend of a friend who has just lost the twins she was carrying, Jessie in Palliative care, Burma. There's also the thanks to offer. I've stayed off the sauce since Ash Wednesday. The odd coincidence is I went to Walsingham that very weekend and asked OL for help. And I'm still sober. "Inspired by her example and aided by her prayers".

And there is the place. Like Iona and Taize it is, as George MacLeod described it, a thin place. I do love it and its atmosphere. I took these pics in February which might help to explain it a bit.

The Abbey ruins.

Snowdrops in spring

The River Stiffkey (pronounced "Stewkey")

It has been one of my touching places for nearly 20 years. That's why I go back.


  1. I agree that there's something powerful about these 'thin' places, Dougal. I've never been to Walsingham, but have been recently to Knock in Ireland, and there's certainly something in it, even if I'm no longer certain what! Taizé, as you may recall, still does it for me.

  2. I hope you find what you need in Walsingham, Dougal. I shall be in a place I find "thin" also - on Colonsay. Right out on the fringes of everything, and yet full of the mystery of God.

  3. That post read more downbeat than I thought! Actually, I want to be thankful principally whilst aware that I continue to need the grace etc. But it is in the thin but full of the mystery of God places that we often find the grace to grow. Well sometimes!