May 7th to 10th, 2009
I am convinced to keep walking out this ‘shape’ and so this third leg will be along the northern Kent coast and the Thames Estuary including the Isle of Sheppey and Medway. On the south side of the Thames we will go as far as Gravesend and cross the water into Essex taking a path from Canvey Island to Romford. Then we shall set out north towards Lincoln on this leg for as much as time allows. I believe that the islands are important to be included in the mouthway of the Thames as we track with this entry point to London.
The fourth leg will be on a direct line walking from Romford to Lincoln which will be a point of arrival and a place of influence that can affect the whole area being walked and marked out. I am so grateful to Linda Yoxon in Lincoln and that from the Easter celebration in 2008, the ‘Linc’ has been constant.
Starting long the coast towards Herne Bay, then Whitstable and Faversham it was quiet and non eventful, as if all was asleep in daylight hours.
We maintained the simple motion of walking with the feeling of being in a time warp, as if connection with reality was elusive. Were we actually attached to the rails of the track we sort to pick up? Pulling through from Bournemouth…. from Wales…. from the near and middle East…from Whitby to Rome to Jerusalem….and all that has been walked for calling for the ways of control to be derailed by a God who loves us into The Way of the Trinity.
Here we were, the formidable five from Leeds, S Coast and Deal close to the heart of ‘Holy Romanised Britain’, skirting around Canterbury like a nervous mouse aware that the cat is in the house and…and nothing. The weird thing is that the walking is not about the walking. Just walking is not enough, but when focused on Jesus and His wonderful face there is a connection between the nature of the ground our feet touch and the will of heaven that engages on us every level.
So when there is nothingness and doubts seep into the vacuum where engagement needs to take place, the temptation to look to oneself is strongest. It is yet another opportunity to be relieved from the duty of looking to ourselves, like Peter looking down and immediately sinking, our efforts are not required! When the pressure to be ‘doing’ something ignites freedom to enjoy Jesus loving on us, it is a big prayer especially when control is in the house.
Nothing, nothing…nothing…Bam! We hit Sittingbourne and the cat and mouse game was over, no more hiding, Kent came out to play and it was rough! Nearing the end of the first day, it took 2 hours to get through this town of corporate landscape, a giant industrial/retail park made up of roundabouts. This ‘watcher’, this ‘door keeper’ held us up, mixed us up and extricating ourselves from it’s steely clutch was a task.
The next day was no easier, Sheppey, The Medway towns and Hoo peninsular to reach Gravesend was heavy work. Four of us navigated this coast with a mirth that grew thin as if all behind was sucking us back and all before us was barring the way. We were thankful to 3 Medway men who caught up with us at the boundary to bless our entry.
In the late afternoon sun with at least 20 miles to go, we set our faces to push the miles under our feet and cover the ‘Hoo’ peninsular. It was lush and beautiful. Rows of Poplars lined the fields and orchards like a scene out of ‘Gladiator’… strikingly Romanesque. It was here a degree of peace descended and The Lion walked with us in the surge of extra strength or finding a way where there is no path, nudging us forward until it was done and Kent, contested from entry to exit, was finally in the bag.
On day three we continued across the Thames from Canvey Island to Romford and then north. Walking in Essex brought respite and lightened the feet, many joined us from the area taking up the slack and allowing us to be weary and carried. It was good to turn on our heels from heading west to the heart of Romford and face north towards Lincoln.
As Phil, a trusty Leeds steed sped back to family, Welsh reinforcements arrived for the last push on day four as Dave and Josh travelled 170 miles to raise our arms and walk with us thro Harlow and up to Royston. A peaceful end to a challenging journey which culminated in standing in St Albans for the winds of change and in preparation for the walk to Lincoln in June.
Jane Almond in Romford was a strong link and it was a pleasure to be in her home and connect with a definite ‘node’ on this ‘shape’. Sue Evans from Deal gave us right of passage from the last walk accompanying us safely through her land on day one. Angela Austin stood in St Albans, a difficult place for a Boadicea and we honour you. Sarah Holloway of Wheathamstead, lowly in the high ground, opposing all that could have swallowed you whole, you are the underground resistance. Dave Griffiths in Bournemouth for being the anchor and holding it in place. Linda Yoxon in Lincoln, taking the squeeze as Lincoln’s time for change arrives, we are on our way to receive the hand that blesses and stand with you in readiness.
My absolute gratitude to Sue, Val, Phil and Lizzie for being part of this mad enterprise and all your support. All who joined us, Vaughnee, Joshie, Gerry, Ann, Chris, Sean and Avril. To April and Derek in Herne Bay for hosting us so wonderfully. Jane and Gerry for all your provision and care of us. Huge appreciation for every single prayer, text, encouragement and support, it means so much.