I get the sense that by sheltering in our homes during COVID-19 ‘lockdowns’ that we have learned how much we value the outdoors – the sky, the air, the ground beneath our feet.
I am a passionate advocate of being active – with the sky above my head and soil beneath my shoes. I think that taking time out in the outdoors is a fantastic way to connect with God and God’s purpose for our lives. So, as part of my role as Director of Ordinands and Vocations, I am leading a one-day pilgrimage walk from the Mt Coot-tha summit to St John’s Cathedral so we can reflect on vocation and call. The ACSQ Vocations Pilgrimage is a new initiative to stimulate thought and discussion about call, vocation and purpose.
Each year between 15 July and 15 August, the Anglican Church Southern Queensland (ACSQ) turns its collective thoughts and prayers to the matter of vocation. While the term ‘vocation’ might be an old-fashioned one to some, you only have to talk to a teacher or a nurse or doctor to understand that one’s profession is, for many people, deeply grounded in their desire to serve and do good in the world. One definition of a ‘vocation’ is an activity “where a person’s deepest joy meets the world’s deepest need”.
The process of discovering our deepest joy is a journey of discernment and listening to God. Pilgrimage has long been a tool to assist people to do just that, and is as popular as ever. Recently, a program called Pilgrimage: The Road to Rome featured on the ABC, documenting the physical, emotional and spiritual journey of eight British celebrities on the Via Francigena from the Italian Alps into Rome. For each of the pilgrims, regardless of faith or belief, the pilgrimage proved to be a time of inner learning, growth and healing.
In July this year, the Larapinta Track is the trail of choice for the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) Challenge Pilgrimage. As well as raising money for ABM, walkers experience a particular sense of closeness with God as they journey, at walking pace, through the landscape. St Aidan’s Anglican Girls School Chaplain The Rev’d Gillian Moses is one of those venturing on the Larapinta Track with ABM next month. She says that “the centring effect of pilgrimage frees my mind to be more prayerful. It creates space to think bigger and deeper questions about who I am, what I want, and where I might be called.” For this reason, pilgrimage is a great tool for discernment.
So, as part of ACSQ Vocations Month this year, we are offering people a chance to reflect on their life’s purpose through a one-day pilgrimage. The group will journey on foot from the summit of Mt Coot-tha, through bush tracks in the morning to a picnic lunch near JC Slaughter Falls. In the afternoon, the journey will take us through urban streets via St Francis Theological College, to the heart of our Diocese, St John’s Cathedral. Along the way, pilgrims will have time to reflect upon and ask questions about vocation, purpose and serving God.
I am keen for seekers and searchers to join me on the pilgrimage. It’s going to be an amazing day. Inspired by Bishop John’s Holy Week walks and the Larapinta Challenge, I thought this might be a great way for people to really tap into some quality reflecting time, while journeying through the landscape.
First Nations peoples’ knowledge of the world is understood through being ‘on Country’ which connects people to people and people to place, so I hope to find out for myself more of what it means to learn through such connections.
The pilgrimage will be held on Wednesday 11 August from 9 am to 4 pm. For more information or to register, visit the walkLIFE Vocations Pilgrimage registration page. If you have questions about the pilgrimage, please contact The Rev’d Canon Sarah Plowman via Sarah.Plowman@anglicanchurchsq.org.au. Church and ministries can visit the Vocations page of the ACSQ website for Vocations Month resources.Jump to next article