From God's fullness we have all received, grace upon grace
“Pilgrimage: Prayer on the Way”

“Pilgrimage: Prayer on the Way”

“Pilgrimage is an opportunity to travel lightly, to walk free of daily routines, to meet people, to make friends, to enjoy and celebrate God’s creation. An opportunity, too, in the travelling, the conversations and the silences to reflect on the journey of our lives, and on our journey homewards to God.”

This quote is from one of the leaflets provided by Devon Pilgrim as guidance on the St Boniface Way. On 23 April, 27 other pilgrims joined Canon Chris and me in walking its 14½ miles from Crediton Parish Church to Exeter Cathedral. En route, we paused at Shobrooke church and Holy Well, Newton St Cyres and Upton Pyne churches, and the University Chapel. At each stage we received a lovely welcome, refreshed ourselves and shared a reflection before we continued on our way. Between Newton and Upton we walked in comfortable silence.

There are as many different ways of making a pilgrimage as there are pilgrims. According to the British Pilgrimage Trust, “To turn a walk into a pilgrimage, at the beginning set your private ‘intention’ – dedicate your journey to something that you want help with, or for which you want to give thanks.”

I generally like to walk alone, and my intention on pilgrimage might be to walk with others. I find it heartening to be alongside other people, all facing and travelling in the same direction for a period of time, an experience I have also had on Iona and the Camino to Santiago.

We book-ended the St Boniface Way with Psalms 121 and 122. These are two of the Songs of Ascent, the 15 psalms from 120-134 that it is believed were sung by worshippers as they ascended the road to Jerusalem to attend the three pilgrim festivals.

I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121.1-2

I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’
And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem;

Psalm 122.1-2

For some pilgrims the journey will be important, for others the destination. Some will bring wounds and sorrows, others joy and gratitude. Some may choose to focus on the movement of walking, its rhythm in the body and the motion across the ground. Others may focus on being outside, in nature and the varying landscapes. Some might feel drawn to pilgrimage, others reluctant and fearful.

However you travel through life, it is good to set some time aside to travel purposefully.

British Pilgrimage Trust
Devon Pilgrim


This is one of a series of articles appearing in Exeter Cathedral’s monthly news, complementing the material I contributed to the “Explore Prayer” section of the Cathedral website. I hope you find them helpful.