Reflections for a summer pilgrimage
Further guidance for planning and leading a group pilgrimage
The prayer journey resources described in the PDF below are designed to be used in a variety of contexts e.g. for someone journeying alone, or for a small group without a minister/leader, so the preparation required in each case will vary. However, the context of the journey e.g. whether it is at home, in a church or outside, may make a difference to the supporting information required. If the journey is to be undertaken by a group with a minister/leader, the PDF may not be necessary, but some preparation almost certainly will.
NB The PDF is designed to be printed back-to-back on an A4 sheet of paper, producing an A5 booklet when folded.
At home – the resources will work well, provided those undertaking the journey understand that the language of ‘journey’ is not to be taken too literally. Where mobility is restricted, the activities can be adapted as exercises in looking, or journeys of the imagination. Photos and ornaments in the home can have as much ‘value’ for the prayer journey as stones and flowers outside.
Outside on your own or in a small group – The PDF contains all the necessary instructions, but you might wish to add some guidance about possible routes, perhaps starting and ending at the church door, and some advice about making sure the walkers – especially if walking alone – have appropriate clothing, some refreshment (water, at least) and a means of emergency communication (e.g. mobile phone).
In church – by choosing appropriate places within the church building (e.g. a chapel, an altar, a prayer desk, a tomb), or by setting up ‘stations’ (one with sticks, one with stones, etc. – following the sequence of the journey), you can create an indoor prayer journey. Some additional instructions on the route may be necessary, but people can do such a journey at any time and on their own. If you regularly receive visitors, you could set up a ‘trail’ for the summer, and have the prayer walk available to any who wish to use it.
In a group with a leader – Choose a suitable route in advance, and good preparation e.g. using a local element in the reflections and activities, could work well. Be clear about start and finish times, as well as place – and don’t forget to make a list of who sets out so that you can make sure no one get left behind along the way! As presented the walk is not a long one, but it may still be helpful to check that those who may require it have refreshment (water, at least) with them. NB It may not be necessary for everyone to have the full PDF. You could create a shorter version, leaving out the reflections, which only the leader needs to use (and/or adapt to suit local needs).
With children – much of the above applies in the same way as for adults, in whichever context you undertake the journey. But in addition, make sure that you have followed your church’s safe-guarding policy and procedures. This may involve getting permissions, making sure that there is adequate and approved supervisions, and so on. During the journey, encourage children and young people to be inquisitive about their surroundings, and to ask questions – but perhaps also with an understanding that some parts of the walk may be in silence. The opportunity to reflect is valuable for children too!