The Way of Blessing

By Biddy Collyer - 05 July 2018
A picture of a walking path
As a city dweller, what joy to wake to the sound of a song thrush announcing the dawn. All last week, I was in the West Country, scouting out the path of the Via Beata, a “Way of Blessing” that is being planned by Steve Eggleton, to cross England and Wales, from Lowestoft in the East to St David’s in the West. The uniqueness of this long distance walk is of a series of sculptures, depicting a verse of scripture, every ten miles or so, strung out like a pearl necklace. Already the path is complete as far as Little Gidding in Cambridgeshire and people are beginning to walk it.

I am no stranger to long distance walking, both here and on the Continent. The longest being seven years ago when, on retirement, I walked the Camino de Santiago; starting in Vezelay in Burgundy and finishing 1,000 miles later in Finisterre.

Immediately before I left, on the day of my retirement, I had visited Steve as I knew he had the first waystation in his garden. It tells the story of The Prodigal Son. As I stood and reflected, I knew that this was a project that I wanted to be a part of on my return.

And so I have. It has been such a joy to walk in slow stages through England towards Wales. So many adventures en route. Just this last week, walking with a friend, we were met with kindness and hospitality. Like the elderly farmer into whose farmyard we stumbled having lost our way. Because I had left my compass behind, we had gone badly off course, putting us behind schedule by two hours. It was now 8.30pm. Taking one look at our faces and flagging bodies, he offered immediately to drive us back to our car, saving us a further hour’s walk.

Kindness, yes, but we had miracles too. On walking across the hill to Bredwardine, we stopped to look at the church. It was where Rev Francis Kilbert spent the last two years of his life. As we were looking round, we were met by a local parishioner who just happened to pop into the church. We told her about the Via Beata and she immediately “got it.” Life is difficult for her, so we prayed for her. What she didn’t know was that we had tried, and failed, to organise a taxi back to our caravan for when we finished the walk, four miles further on. This part of Herefordshire is very remote, so no regular buses! She offered to pick us up three hours later and take us back.

It seems that as we pray blessings for the communities that we walk through, God blesses us in turn, and brings us safely home.

Biddy Collyer is a local writer, contributes regularly to the EDP and attends St Stephen’s church in Norwich. To find out more about 'The Way of Blessing' visit viabeata.co.uk.

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