Chaplain's thought for the month

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Chaplain's thought for the month

Revd Tom encourages making space for the spirit to breathe


Over the Summer holidays I made a pilgrimage in North Wales. A pilgrimage is generally understood as a spiritual journey on foot to a holy place, so it’s supposed to be a walk with a spiritual dimension, in which you engage with the challenges of the terrain and the weather, leaving aside everyday preoccupations and considering the bigger picture.

So over four days I walked part of the North Wales Pilgrim’s Way. I went around 60 miles from Bangor to Aberdaron at the end of the Llŷn Peninsula. Making the journey completely on my own, over some difficult terrain, and carrying my tent and everything I needed on my back, I have to say that it was pretty difficult at times!

The whole experience made me reflect on the value of solitude. I went on my pilgrimage early in the summer holidays to have some time completely alone to re-centre myself after a busy academic year. We all need time alone. The Bible commends the value of stillness and silence, and Jesus was often reported to withdraw to the wilderness or mountains to be alone to pray and reflect.

We can live such busy lives that we’re often bombarded by noise, information, opinions, tasks we have to do, people we have to impress, that there’s very little space for our spirit to breathe – and that can mean that there’s very little space for us just to be us.

Taking time each day to withdraw and be alone is really valuable: the time to turn off mobiles, computers, radios, TVs; the time when we don’t need to do or be anything; the time when we don’t need to engage with anyone, don’t have any pressure to perform or achieve or be funny or impressive. This is time we all need as human beings, and yet we’re often starved of it: it’s the time and the space for our spirit to breathe when we can just be ourselves.

At the start of a busy term I commend to everyone in this busy community – pupils, parents, staff – the value of a certain amount of solitude on a daily basis.