St Swithun’s Way passes nearby and this summer a group from our church determined to undertake a pilgrimage along it, extended across five Saturdays.
St Swithun has long been associated with the weather and so somehow it wasn’t surprising that the happy band of pilgrims enjoyed the full gamut of what we like to call summer in the UK. I have to confess to only managing two stages and it really wasn’t because of the serious mud and steady drizzle of stage one in May.
It was especially satisfying to take part in the final section to Winchester Cathedral in late August, good just to put one foot in front of the other, following the person in front and safe in the knowledge that the vanguard knew where they were going. Sometimes alone with one’s thoughts, sometimes chatting and gently getting to know your fellow travellers. We saw hidden villages at a walking pace, and took all morning to cover a distance I usually drive in minutes. We stopped at each church along the way – two dedicated to St Swithun himself as we approached the city.
At the cathedral we were welcomed and directed to the Epiphany Chapel where our vicar led a short service of prayer and thanksgiving under the lovely Epiphany window designed by Burne-Jones and made in the William Morris workshops in 1910. Our few miles in the English countryside a pale echo of the Magi’s mighty journey to Bethlehem.
As saints perhaps like to, St Swithun had the last word – we walked to the bus station through thunder and lightning and ten minutes of the most torrential rain you could imagine, the High Street shoppers in their t-shirts and flip-flops diving for cover as we trudged merrily by.
… I’m sorry to bother you, but could I just mention …
- the sign outside church is fading and there’s another wobbly flagstone on the steps
- it would be good to dispose of the surplus old furniture at the back of church, an email to the Archdeacon should be sufficient
- while the vicar’s on her sabbatical, will you be OK to chair the PCC meetings?
- we should make a start on the Statement of Need for the building project
- in the vicar’s absence, who do I contact about these procedures?
- shall we finish the inventory and update the Log Book?
- can you arrange a meeting of the Finance sub committee?
- we’re one short in the server/acolyte team on Sunday
- the architect who did the Quinquennial inspection said he found the biggest spider he’s ever seen, up in the vestry loft, together with some mystery cocoons that may have been its dinner, or not
- how shall we present the progress report on our Parish Development Plan next month?
- are you around to welcome the visiting speaker next Sunday?
- I’d like to circulate the membership and dates of the sub committees you chair
- I’m worried that Mrs X is overdoing it – she looks tired, but she never says no
- have you any suggestions about what materials we should use in the Bible study group?
- we should make sure the non-stipendary part-time clergy don’t over commit themselves
- can you make a meeting next Wednesday?
- it would be good to have a list of forthcoming services on the noticeboard in the church hall
- the Diocese is running a course for all churchwardens one Saturday next month
Dear Lord, give me strength (as they say),
And patience and a sense of humour.
Thank you for my fellow churchwarden and his diplomatic persistence,
Bless everyone who gives their time and skills to our little church community.
Between us we will get everything done.
And help us all to focus on the stuff that really matters.