St Albans to Lincoln

21st TO 25th JUNE 2010

This walk had a constant theme of redemption, the 3 days preceding it I encountered 3 powerful redemptive situations pointing to the remarkable restoration of Jesus….’you make all things well, just look at our lives…’

For three years now I have kept on appointment with Lincoln on 25th June, this last walk being the third connection on this date.

Once we had taken a moment in the town’s centre, we set out north from St Albans on 21st June with the sun blazing on our backs. For the 5th time we stood between Lamb Alley and the Bell pub at the top of the hill where Alban would have lost his head to the roman empire. The only way to counter the control of ‘man’s head’ is to get out of our heads on Jesus, so we arrived having taken time to lose our heads afresh to Jesus. This 5th visit was to provoke a de-corking and unblocking of the well in that place. As the town prepared to celebrate Alban’s feast day with a religious fervour that would have made the saint puke at the idolatry of himself, we went to lift the lid off the truth that has been capped in that place. May the real Alban stand up please…and be free to roam around that place declaring that it really is ALL about Jesus.

Stepping out from St Alban’s we were a team of 4 for 4 days, making our way into middle England, through Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonhshire and into Lincolnshire. There were 4 ‘Eleanor crosses’ to bag on the way which means 10 of these monuments are now clonking around in my ‘Mary Poppins’ bag. In each of their positions is the cross of Christ and His intimacy as a conductor/download of heaven to earth. The last crosses are in London which will be part of the final walk.

As we walked over the river Lea and past Luton, having walked there from East London before now, we sent a reminder to Luton that it is loved. Brushing past Bedford we pushed on into what began to feel like medieval England. We walked through village after village that carried significant history of days gone by, relics of kings with divine right, arms, feudal lords and peasant revolts. Finding paths through land that is enclosed and wondering how ancient is a track and what land must have been like before the enclosures. Nowadays, farmers that go to work the land knowing they will make a loss each day and our relationship over centuries with this soil verses money and power.

As I kept my focus on Lincoln it was like pulling through the middle ground with all that has been marked out land-wise by this entire walk. And now, drawing it all up into one place to be re-organised, re-sorted and re-ordered. There were just some last bits to cover and then the job is done. Huge estates like Burghley and Grimsthorpe were to be taken into this final sweep towards Lincoln. At the centre of Stamford we picked up an ‘Eleanor Cross’, a place that has a deep rooted medieval identity where 4 counties meet. It felt important to call for a ‘Jesus centre’ here and as we drew on His AD33 vintage in the town’s square, some young people appeared, partying along the street.

Throughout this ‘Bell walk’ there has been a colour theme, particularly using the colour pink to represent that which has been divided becoming one i.e. creator/creation, being/doing or left/right etc. Red and white come together in pink, the red cross on the white background or the white and red roses of a royal house divided against itself. Walking through the centre of this Bell shape is about bringing the ‘left and right’ together as we literally walked with our feet through the middle calling for balance and the control that divides to be squeezed out on every level of life. The beautiful truth is I even descend from the house of York and Lancaster, both red and white rose, my blood is symbolically pink, haha!!

In Grantham we picked up an ‘Eleanor Cross’ in Katherine’s Road and in Lincoln we picked up another at Katherine’s priory. (St. Katherine, an 4th C martyr from Egypt confronted the Roman emperor with the truth of Christ) As we took the busy road into Lincoln, fresh troops joined us, that felt like a much needed transfusion. Finally, it was a joy to climb ‘Steep Hill’ once more and stand between the castle and the cathedral in Lincoln. Linda Yoxon met us, this her third year of receiving us, and simply handed me a red and white rose….we prayed and I was anxious to connect with Lincoln once more, but not with my clever words or pouring out the revelation that has been so deep on these walks. I would rather ‘shut-up’ and hear God speak or give the ‘I am’ this moment. As I stilled myself, a breeze brushed past and with eyes shut I sensed someone approach us from the cathedral. With the eyes of my heart I saw a monk shuffling towards us, he came up to me and asked me 3 times whether the red and white roses were for him. Each time I replied yes and then he took them and shuffled off. At that moment the cathedral bells began to ring. I assumed it must an hourly sounding and smirked at the coincidence.

However, the bells began ringing and did not stop, Linda declared, ‘in all the 25 years of living here, I have never heard these ring properly like this!’ The time was 25 to 5 pm…on the 25th June…the bells rang out all sorts of different melodies for 50 minutes and the last bell sounded at 5.25pm, Jubilee resounded all around us.

We were astounded as we just sat on the cobbled street licking ice-creams enjoying ‘God’s voice’. As the bells continued I said to Linda about the monk taking the roses. There was one Bishop of Lincoln who related to high and low folk alike called St. Hugh, a French hermetical monk and Linda who has been a gatekeeper in Lincoln is moving to the centre of France as I write this report. 25 yrs she has faithfully held her post, this is her silver jubilee and she is on the next part of her journey. I left the roses at the ruin of the old bishops palace to confirm that yes, certainly both red and white rose were for the heart of this place, as a sign of redemption to Lincoln.

I have never been one for lofty religious seats but I knew this visit was a personal redemption as well. In Lincoln cathedral, 3 women are celebrated who are my ancestors and it was time to come into whatever destiny lies in this awe-inspiring building. Firstly, my namesake, Katherine Swynford, lowly, dearly loved and legitimised by the highest in the land and her daughter, Joan. Also, Eleanor, dearly loved who’s crosses I have almost finished taking for Jesus. I placed a small cross back in her hands and blessed Eleanor’s cross in that place.

Kneeling at the ‘High alter’ it was like being in the centre of a golden canopy of Jesus’ presence where I soaked up every drop of His redemption by just remaining with Him, while paying tourists meandered round doing what they do best!

The bells had rang that Friday, 25th June at just the right moment as a ‘one-off’. A volunteer who had served the cathedral for many years was 90 years old and the bells were rang to honour that person……… If two lots of 25 mins equals 50 mins then what is 45 in relation to 90? November this year I am 45 and this walking broke open for me 3 years ago as I stood in the Seyhan river in Turkey and symbolically smashed two stones together 45 times….. mind boggling!

My thanks to Sarah, Jacquie, Adrian, Phil, Gill, Mike and Linda for being part of this journey and all your support.

An amazing completion, with one more walk which will be the icing on the cake.