St Mary’s Church Coddenham

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From The Rectory – Pilgrimage

by | Jul 27, 2023 | Coddenham Church


It’s good to be home.  Holidays are great; it is good to get away, but eventually the novelty wears off and home calls. Home is where the heart is; but where is the heart?

Two months ago, a number of us made the 500+ mile pilgrimage to the Island of Iona; one-time home to St Columba. The journey was not without incident. Four years in the planning, delayed two years by COVID, expensive and, for some, further complicated by broken-down trains and cancelled ferry bookings. The challenges of getting there were enough to make several travellers wish they had never started. I was unable to join that journey but everyone I have heard from found the blessings conferred by Iona far outweighed the challenges. Journey over, all returned home safely.

Today we expect travel to be safe, comfortable and reliable; and for the most part swift. It is the destination that counts, the journey is merely a means to an end. Only too aware of the potential dangers, few of us would be prepared to set out across the Irish Sea in an open boat. Yet the journey, with all its challenges, is an essential part of pilgrimage.  Overcoming those challenges; learning what we really value (comfort?) or fear (not being in control?); leaving our normal routine and entering a new and perhaps unfamiliar rhythm; all help to open us to new possibilities, new realities.

I said that pilgrimage over, everyone returned home from Iona safely. But if home is where the heart is, are the hearts still at home? Whether we are seeking a closer walk with God, or just looking for a quiet few days away, pilgrimage is a spiritual journey. Journey over, we may come back to the same house, the same job, the same church; but is our heart in the same place? Stepping aside from our normal routine, letting someone else determine a different rhythm for our life, if only for a few days, pilgrimage opens us to change when it opens us to God.

St Augustine wrote “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you”. Life is a pilgrimage. Our true home is with God. Every experience that opens our heart to God’s presence, brings us one step nearer that true home.

Rev’d Philip Payne                                                         Notice Sheet for 30 July 2023 can be found here

[With particular thanks to those who have shared their Iona experiences with me]


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