I was in the first year of my curacy at St Mary’s, Hendon. My training Vicar announced that after Easter we were going away for a long weekend with some of his friends. I felt a sharp sense of resentment at this unexpected piece of news; for parish clergy, Sundays ‘off’ are rare treasures to be spent with care, and here was the Vicar snatching one away from me. Thankfully my feeling of resentment was short-lived. Sadly its short life was swallowed up by a deep sense of despair.
Apparently our long weekend was to be spent somewhere in Yorkshire, doing something called the Lyke Wake Walk. The Vicar assured me that this would be fun, it would be something I would enjoy. I was fairly clear in my own mind that a forty mile walk across the North York Moors would be neither fun nor enjoyable, but the ease with which I capitulate to authority figures is pathetic.
As it turned out I did find completing the walk tremendously satisfying, so much so that I came to look forward to our post-Easter hikes. Walking was changing me. A couple of years ago the Vicar and I did the West Highland Way. The following year I walked it again, with my Uncle Jimmy. Then we walked the Kintyre Way.
Increasingly though I wanted to walk my ‘own’ walk, and that’s part of the reason for my pilgrimage from Iona to Lindisfarne - to find my own way.
The Vicar is an Archdeacon now. That’s the honour the Church of England bestows upon those of its clerics blessed with the ability to persuade the rest of us to do things we really don’t want to.