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Thirty-five years of Journeying

Thirty-five years of Journeying

Wednesday 4th January 2023
David Gleed

The idea of pilgrimage, of journeying from place to place on a voyage of discovery, begins to take root the more we become aware of our own longing for things of the spirit...

Journeying was founded in 1988. Since then, we have travelled to many of the most remote and seemingly inaccessible places of pilgrimage in the British Isles; shuddered and laughed together at some of the predicaments encountered along the way; and known the delight of discovering places where for centuries people have felt especially close to God - sacred places, places of pilgrimage.

2023 marks the thirty-fifth year of Journeying!

Originally known as Pilgrim Adventure, Journeying remains non-profit seeking, with a spiritual ethos and a faith journey in a small, informal, personal way.

People go on pilgrimage for all sorts of reasons and our groups reflect this. For some it's simply a great way to enjoy an 'away from it all' holiday (and why not!), for others and perhaps most, it's an opportunity to connect with God, or to recharge batteries and maybe seek new direction, but often pilgrim travel is for no greater or lesser reason than fellowship and accompaniment, sometimes at tired or difficult points.

Travelling off the beaten track to places on the edge - island, hill, shore - it wasn't long before the Celtic saints who inhabited these fringe places, started to make their presence known to our groups. The saints and their Way, captured our imagination and soon began to appear in itineraries! And now, some of our most popular destinations are centred around those places where the Celtic saints of old once lived - places that often feel quite 'thin', as if heaven and earth might only be a tissue breadth apart. But of course, Celtic-ness is something we bring with us, and isn't dependent on location. So, while we might not always journey through known Celtic lands, a sense of the Celtic is as much part of the Journeying Way as pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage is a dynamic entity, resting easily in many formats, all with a common thread; 'going out and returning'. We might occasionally offer a traditional linear pilgrimage; moving on each day, staying at different locations along the Way, but are more likely to schedule single centre journeys based at our own house, with daily excursions, usual on foot. On two occasions we stayed on our own boat while visiting the islands of St Kilda.

The magic of pilgrimage is that it has something to offer everyone! Journeying embraces this.

Paul Heppleston, who did much to shape Journeying, wrote; Even though we are a Christian organisation (and perhaps because of it too) we welcome people of all traditions, of other faiths and none.

Wherever we travel in these islands, it's those special moments that 'just happen', that often take us deeper and remain in the memory...

One evening in the Highlands of Scotland, we chartered a small fishing boat to visit the tiny Isle of St. Finnan, where we held a short service among the ruins of an early chapel. We began our worship with the hymn, 'Make me a channel of your peace.' Barely had the first verse ended than the heavens opened and a deluge of rain came crashing through the open roof. With the determination of true pilgrims, we continued to sing. And then it happened, the most beautiful rainbow, stretching from one side of the loch to the other - magical!

Now, halfway through our fourth decade, Journeying retains its founding ethos, while remaining open to new and exciting ventures. Today we partner with other organisations on projects that further the reach of pilgrimage, and keep an eye on the road for destinations yet to be imagined.