Thursday 4 July 2019

Walking the Way

(This is the text of my article for the magazine of Well Street United Church - July/Aug 2019 edition)

Are you walking the Way?

Jesus says, ‘I am the Way ….and the truth and the life’ (John 14:6).  

In Spanish, the first part of that phrase reads, ‘Yo soy el camino.’  That the last word of that sentence is in bold may give you a clue to where I am going next!  In September, I am setting off to walk the Way of St James, better known as the Camino de Santiago.  It’s a walk of approximately 500 miles from St Jean Pied-de-Pont in France to Santiago de Compostela in north-western Spain. 

You may remember that last year I took a half-sabbatical with the intention of taking the other half not too long after.  It is this other half that I am using to walk the Way.  Why would I want to walk 500 miles, putting my feet, ankles, knees, hips etc through potential agony for up to 25 miles a day?  Broadly speaking, this is how I see my time on the Camino.

First and foremost, it’s a journey with God.  My life as a disciple of Jesus is not only about the destination, but also about walking the way with Jesus.  Before they were called ‘Christians’, the early New Testament believers were known as those ‘who belonged to the Way’ (Acts 9:2).  Santiago is believed by many to be the final resting place of James, the brother of John.  I have no particular belief in that, but over many centuries it has been the reason for millions of pilgrimages along the Way of St James.  For me, that makes the journey at least as holy as the destination. As I walk thousands of steps each day, I aim to listen to God and have fresh encounters with God, just as those two disciples met with and listened to the Risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

Second, it’s a journey with the world.  People from all across the globe come to walk the Camino, people of faith, people of no faith, people seeking God.  There is community along the Way, a community of which I am already a part as I follow the current journeys of others via social media.  I’m looking forward to joining it in person, sharing with others and learning from them.  I may not look forward to the shared dormitories at hostels en route (one with over 100 beds in one room!), but falling into step alongside other pilgrims for a few minutes or hours or even days will be good.  Some talk of friends for life being made on the Way.

Third, it’s a journey with myself.   Physically, it’s a bigger challenge than I have ever taken on before.  I’ve done long-distance walks of 200 miles or so, but that was 30 years ago and more! Will my body cope with between 15 & 25 miles walking, day after day?  Emotionally, will I be lonely, separated from my wife for up to a month? How will I manage without home comforts, and carrying very little for the journey?  I recognise that the years I have left on this earth are less than those I have had!  I want to think about how I will make the most of the rest of my life.  

I want to make the most of this journey on the Camino.  That’s why I’ve decided to raise money for Toybox, whose vision is of a just world with no street children.  I’d love to raise £1000 to help!  If you feel led to support, you can do so through my giving page at  Alternatively, there will be a sponsorship form at each of our four churches, and I can forward your gift to Toybox on my return from the Camino. Please see below for more details.

Whether or not you feel able to give, please can I ask for your prayers?  This will be a major challenge for me, and it will be great to know that I have many others walking the Way with me in prayer!

As those on the way say to each other, ‘Buen Camino!’


Walking the Camino de Santiago
(This is the text from my giving page)

On the 3rdSeptember 2019, I’ll be setting off on the walk of a lifetime: around 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago.  I’ll be walking between 15 & 25 miles a day, aiming to finish the journey within 4 weeks with maybe a rest day or two along the way.

I’ve decided to raise money for Toybox, whose mission is ‘changing the world for street children’. One area of their work that really touches me is that of birth registration.  

In areas of poverty few children are registered at birth. Often families turn to the streets for a source of income. As they cannot legally hold a job the cycle continues as a person who does not officially exist cannot officially have children.

Toybox help break this cycle by taking children (and sometimes their parents) through the registration process and giving them an official identity.  

It costs £32 to complete the registration process for one child.  I aim to raise £1000 and make a difference for 32 children. Your donation could help turn one or more street children from ‘non-persons’ to people with dignity and opportunity.

Together we can change their world!