Walking on …

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Following on from the early service we visited Dunwich museum, well worth a look to get a sense of the once august nature of this village and how it is that 13 of the 14 churches are now under water. We then popped in to the only church above water, St James – which had some lovely touches such as a kettle and refreshments for passes-by to make theiown hot drinks. Then onwards to   westleton and a pub lunch at the white horse pub. After a tasty meal we ploughed on to Darsham where a drop-in at all saints church was in full swing.

The last three years have seen over 4000 visits to the church since facilities and hospitality was developed and it has become a warm and welcoming meeting point in the village. Throughout the day I was struck by how the pilgrimage is enabling us to slow down , pay attention and have different conversations from those we usually engage in …a really helpful way to discover people and places.

At the end of Ash Wednesday

+Mike and I have just returned to our hosts in Darsham after preaching (Mike) and presiding (me) at Yoxford for an impressive congregation of 40.  The day began with an extraordinary Eucharist on the beach at Dunwich, with a gathering of 100 people in warm sun and the softest breeze. 

There is a surreal feeling about Dunwich being mostly under the sea. Standing on the beach this morning I was strangely aware of the substantial town and great port whose remains lie under water, and of the forces that led to that and which continue to threaten stretches of the Suffolk coast. 

And with +Mike, Bishop of Dunwich, presiding we were also aware that his first predecessor, Felix of Burgandy, would have presided at the Eucharist at the start of Lent just about a mile from where we were, in the 7th century town now lost to the waves.  

Getting Ready

Bishop Mike and I set off early tomorrow morning for our Pilgrimage. Mike is driving to my house and Susan Lowery, our assistant, is driving us and our (modest) luggage to Dunwich beach. The weather is predicted at the moment to be partly sunny, so all being well we will be able to celebrate the Eucharist for Ash Wednesday on the beach, at 9am.  You are very welcome to join us.

+Mike will preside – fitting of course as the Bishop of Dunwich, even though whatever evidence there may have been of Felix, the first Bishop of Dunwich’s church, is under the sea.

So today is about getting ready, which includes tackling some of the accumulated pile of admin so I feel a little better about leaving alone for ten days. But it also means getting my practical and spiritual preparations in place.  Leaving the family for ten days (albeit with a brief break with them on Saturday afternoon) is difficult, as it always is, and this time will be an odd situation of ‘so near and yet so far’.

A strong symbol for me of getting my practical and spiritual preparations in place is changing my pectoral cross from my glorious silver one, a gift from Westcott House when I left to come to Suffolk, to this bronze one, which carries for me the earthy, unadorned simplicity we all share and are drawn into in Lent.

Bishops’ Pilgrimage

The Bishops’ Lent Pilgrimage from Dunwich to the Cathedral at Bury St Edmunds from March 1 to March 11 takes the following route:

  • March 1 Dunwich to Yoxford (about 7 miles)
  • March 2 Yoxford to Bruisyard (about 7 miles)
  • March 3 Bruisyard to Framlingham (about 5 miles) *
  • March 5 Framlingham to Earl Soham (about 4 miles)
  • March 6 Earl Soham to Debenham (about 8½ miles) *
  • March 7 Debenham to Earl Stonham (about 8 miles)
  • March 8 Earl Stonham to Stowmarket (St Peter & St Mary) (about 8½ miles) *am
  • March 9 Stowmarket to Drinkstone (about 9 miles) *pm
  • March 10 Drinkstone to Bury St Edmunds (Hospice Chapel) (about 8½ miles)

*these days include private visits which have been arranged for the Bishops and are less suitable for additional walkers.

The Pilgrimage starts on the beach at Dunwich (in church if wet) at 9.00am with Eucharist and ashing, and ends at the Diocesan Synod in the Cathedral on 11 March.

Each section of the pilgrimage starts and ends at a Church in the Diocese, with morning and evening prayer respectively. All walks start at 9.00am with a short service at the church, except Wednesday 1 March which starts with Eucharist on the beach and Sunday 5 March which starts immediately at 2.30pm.

Everyone is invited to walk with the Bishops for part or all of each day. However days marked * are less suitable for additional walkers. See Diocesan Website for further details. The afternoons of Sunday 5 and Wednesday 8 March are especially suitable for additional walkers, and the Wednesday afternoon has public transport back to your starting place.

Please note that walks are not circular so please plan parking/public transport accordingly.