A team gathered at Chester on 9th June to walk for 4 days directly south to Caerleon, nr Newport in South Wales.
Caerleon first came on my radar whilst in St Albans in 2009. Alban gave his life to save a Welsh priest who escaped, but was caught in Caerleon. Since then I have been aware that it is an important and very hidden ‘well’.
As the Treasure Chest became obvious I could see Caerleon as a hoard of treasure that could be re-distributed… spiritual wealth to be unlocked for the nation. I saw a dragon resting on top of this treasure but was unsure whether that was a hindrance or for safety so I reserved judgement.
Chester used to be called Caerleon as well, meaning ‘a fortress of legions’ established by romans. Chester & Caerleon were north and south fortresses marking out what became the great divide between Anglo-Saxon and Welsh. This divide was continued by Mercia (occupants of the Midlands) on what was perhaps Roman origins, entrenched by theNormans and rooted in by the ‘Welsh Marches’. The March lords and their castles were placed to keep the Welsh at bay at all costs. Chester, Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Leominster and Hereford line up like a frontier and the land west for about 20 miles is like a no-mans land running from north to south. It was in the centre of this strip of land that we walked touching no major English or Welsh place, but rather the area that is in-between. It was as if we were walking a furrow, a gully all the way along the border.
In 2007 I entered into Wales at Chepstow kneeling to ask for Wales’ hand and to lower ourselves to receive their blessing. Their brokenness is our brokenness and their healing, our healing. In that year a walk continued around the coast ofWales and at the exit above Chester again I was on my knees asking forWales’ hand.
I have constantly been amazed at the Welsh response of grace and kindness, almost wanting to pull us off our knees and draw us alongside, awkward at being raised up, but this must be so if balance and equality is to come. The key is that England lowers itself in order to raise up that which it has oppressed so that a new engagement can take place.
The English gift of leadership is as a servant, as Christ laid His life down for us and as Alban laid his life down for the welsh priest and so the husband does like wise for his bride, so England is to Wales. This new engagement, like a diamond in a ring as one lady was reminded of losing her diamond and her husband releasing it into the land, it made sense of why I had lost a diamond from my engagement ring just this January after being in Newport at the ‘GloryFest’ event.
This is the furrow, the wound we walked imbibing the joy of Jesus and His absolute command of this situation, knowing He has everything in hand we are free to put one foot in front of t’other and encounter His fullness. Personal wounds in our team of walkers are intrinsically linked to the ground our feet touch, journeys of years where, at this juncture all we have faced is not only about our little lives but also an echo to the heart beat of the land and the injustices that can affect nations.
One walker who has dyslexia became a bit unglued when they could not work out which direction to go. It was as if all they had ever felt that had rubbished who they are and the way they think accosted them all at once, so this poor walker was in the pits! As they continued to find their way forward, Jesus began to tell them how much he loved the way they thought and that He made them perfectly. So the walker walked out of this ‘trough’ and found their way to the meeting point. Where upon they found themselves standing under a sign saying ‘The Dyslexia Centre’!!! The way a person feels treated as second rate or a ‘problem’ is the same for a nation when treated so.
Dave and Donna Vaughan (who we stayed with in Pontypool) have had a boundary issue on their land for years where a neighbour was taking their land as his own and refusing to adhere to the true boundary. This issue has now been resolved after tireless court proceedings. Taking someone’s back yard and showing utter disregard for what is theirs relates to what has gone on in the nation.
Our troughs and our peaks all count on the journey and are connected with the land, all that we are is important. As we believe who we are IN Christ then the land comes into the same alignment, creation is longing for us to come into our OWN.
This ‘welt’ was so quiet compared to the usual busy roads or built up areas, it was amazing to walk and see no-one or walk in the centre of a ‘B’ road because it was like a country lane! Anyone we spoke to was so friendly and helpful, it was like finding a hideaway or a secret garden. The place that is ‘in between’ (click for more on this) contains a antidote to all that which has been exhausted or over-used, a place of relief. A new boundary that is not gouging areas of land from the Welsh, is a plumb line of definition and a place of healing. In 2007 I poured out oil and parchment representing Smith Wigglesworth’s ‘spirit and word’ that had been kept for 7 years. I now begin to understand why it had to be on that border.
For 2 nights we stayed right in the heart of this ‘furrow’ near Church Stoke with a lovely older couple who housed all eight of us, their house was in England and the river at the bottom of their garden was Wales.
Once we reached the river Usk, Caerleon was insight and the final day was to finish off the last 15 miles and arrive in time at the roman amphitheatre to meet Karen Lowe and Debs Chapman from Llanelli, Steve Hallet from Llandaff, Cardiff and Davey Vaughan, our man of Gwent residing in Pontypool. This day the heavens opened and it rained 14 days worth in one day.
Often entrances or the boundary’s to a place are few miles outside them and even though they look small, they have a wide influence. Such places may look as if they have become a ‘back-water’, but it is veiled, in hiding so that you could forget it is there. In reality they are the ‘key’ to unlock a whole region so on one level the veil is protection but also a ‘keep out’ sign, so there are mixed motives but ‘Jesus timing’ is the override. A sleeping beauty is to be awoken with a kiss and when time is up, a way through is made with just the right people at the right time.
As we began the few miles along the river Usk with the finish line just ahead, the final ‘walk in’ usually has an adrenalin rush that causes the ground to fly beneath the feet and even being soaked can be a stimulant! Making my way through this ‘veil’, this ‘curtain’ into Caerleon was one of the hardest of the 30 walks that I have done. The discouragement was like the rain, it got everywhere, a forlorn and dank lost-ness seemed to beset my very bone marrow. The duress was irrational as if I was fighting for every step, Sarah a stalwart woman and dear friend urged me on where I could have sat on a sodden hill in bewilderment with all mental bearings skewiff.
Finally, once we entered the town everything began to ease, even the rain stopped and …we were on time…in place and on time
We stood in the roman amphitheatre with such strength it was as if my walk in was just a bad dream! We began announcing all we had walked for, and called for the ‘controlling lid’ to be taken off all that has been crushed and put down in that place. All I could see were flames, a wild fire coming up from the ground. Such an authority and royalty is in that place where you can ask for whatever is in on your heart and nothing was too much, a gauntlet went down for Scotland, for Zimbabwe, for the ‘Man of Gwent, for the Welsh identity, the Pen dragon and of course England and Wales.
Allsorts unsaid and said went into that furnace, for we know that we are ‘the prayer’ rather than it just being about articulation, every step, every sacrifice, every breath, we are the embodiment of IT, we are a walking prayer. An ‘orange glow’ surrounded us, the same glow that arrived in Selsey where 80 people had gathered this May calling for the indigenous to rise, the same glow that popped out of my belly, embraced my face and went of on it’s way, the first time I stood at Cardiff gate in 2007….her name then was ‘Intimacy’.
The Welsh Dragon is rising shining like gold, it’s identity in The Son and with it is hidden treasure that has been kept until now. It was awesome having everyone there, myriad Jesus refracting through every movement, sight and sound of His creation. Jesus, our conductor and we are lightening rods in Him, along with the whole orchestra, the elements and all creation.
Part of me has not returned from this walk, I remember this being the case the first time I walked into St Albans and so returning to Caerleon in July to walk out from there to St Albans will bring full-circle what has begun.
I am indebted to the wonderful team that walked with me, I am SO grateful to Sarah, Dave, Jen, Nicki, Debs, Andrew & Graham for ALL of who you are and to God for bringing you on this walk, just the right ingredients that was needed….we walk, warts and all and nothing is wasted. Thank you to all eagle riders who prayed for us hovering overhead and up ahead. Thank you to Janey for having us in Chester, to Michael and Claudette Pollits in Church Stoke and Davey and Donna Vaughan in Pontypool, sitting down to a Lamb roast was ace and Annie’s fudge was such a treat.
Thank you for reading this far. Alotta glory on the feet….