(Click map or pics to enlarge) To be firm friends with a place that, on face value, would repel feet like mine and have me shaking the sand off them in return is indeed a new way forward with unexpected allies. This was my 6th and final visit to Lincoln in this capacity of walking out a grid to loosen and remove the ‘control’ footholds that have burrowed into England. I will never forget my first audience with this city and the citation I came with, to advise this high place of authority to realign itself with the role it has been given and to quit centuries of sulking because it did not get its own way. In return, there was no promise of laud or honour but rather a veritable peace that only comes from returning humbly to operate one’s gifting selflessly and without vanity. As I met with Lincoln in its deep chambers that afternoon 25th June 2008 I suddenly realised that my path was the same as Lincoln’s. My family legacy in a long line of ‘Baron Boston, high sherif of Lincolnshire’ had also abused their gift of governance and as I petitioned Lincoln that day, I knew our common ground of hidden obedience would be our bond and mutual respect.
Often it is a satellite village outside these massive cities that are the unseen gateways into the heart of a place but there comes a day when that hidden entrance has achieved the access to the heart. Nettleham was that doorway for Lincoln but now this visit saw us staying right in Lincoln’s centre, a few feet away from the place between the Cathedral and the Castle that has been our arrival and departure point on each walk.
As we stepped on to the street from our lodgings we were instantly mobbed by ‘hi-viz’ clad runners. As clumsy obstacles to this oncoming herd, we apologised repeatedly, giggling as our efforts to get out of the way seemed to make things worse but amongst the passing furrowed brows there was a smiley face that I knew. The husband of a family from Nettleham was running past our front door at the precise moment we appeared, expertly timed to the second. It was so good to connected with the ‘doorway’ that has been Nettleham at the doorway of our hotel. My jogging friend was as amazed as we were and also encouraged by this collision as he had just been asking God at that moment, ‘What’s it all about Lord?’ Hidden obedience is certainly something of what it is all about. So I honour Linda and Mike Yoxon originally of Nettleham and indeed their friends Dawne and Francis Ward who maintained that doorway to the heart of that city, ‘run’ through with hidden obedience.
To access the Cathedral we attended evensong. Sitting there I could feel the indigenous identity of the land unhindered, coming up from the ground and seeping between the slabs of stone floor. It was being drawn to and through our bodies only to be exhaled into this massive hall of medieval song, like swirls of smoke. To my right was the railing where I had knelt and said ‘I do’ to the King of Kings, further to my right, Katherine Swynford, beloved and legitimised here by the highest in the land, my namesake , even further to my right, Eleanor, beloved wife of Edward III who’s 12 crosses have been seconded for Jesus and His beloved, on these walks. Looking at the ritual physically taking place in front of us, for me it was obvious that there was another context other than the four walls and cavernous roof. I could see the reality of the huge backdrop of the Creators scenery and stage moving in through the ceiling and walls and replacing this stone edifice.
All that has been weaved through this place and connected with this journey has the power to pick up this amazing gothic stone building and separate it from its foundation, pull apart its corners and lift off the ceiling so that each piece remains in mid-air and in attendance at The Service, the Evensong of the Lord of Hosts held in creation. For centuries, man has attended the service within the building, now may it be time for the building to give way and for its attention to be diverted from what takes place inside it to what is taking place outside it. Meanwhile, those on the ground who carry on the activity of being ‘inside’ the building end up ‘outside’ and operating in the open because the big stone structure is removed….in other words ‘The Lid has Come Off”…. it could be recorded as ‘the Dislocation of the Monoliths’!
‘No. 14 Bistro’ is a french restaurant in Lincoln and locals beckoned us in with high recommendations. There were many French eating there and all I could think was that the Yoxons of Nettleham now live in Clermont-Ferrand in central France and Bishop Hugh of Lincoln came from France. When we found out that the friendly locals who persuaded us to eat at No.14 lived next door to our hotel it was even more obvious that much detail had gone in to making sure that we knew we were very welcome here.
From Lincoln we set our faces south west to Caerleon with about 190 miles to cover mostly traversing countryside from village to Hamlet. We passed through Newark on Trent and Loughborough with Nottingham and Derby on our right and Leicester on our left. By the end of day 2 we reached the point where the lines cross over in the middle of this ‘treasure chest’. Two diagonal lines from Chester to St Albans and now from Lincoln to Caerleon crossed over exactly at a tiny hamlet called ‘Church End’ near Coleshill on the east side of Birmingham. I knew this point was important to mark as a ‘crossing over’ point from the old into the new, marked by a ‘kiss’, the kiss of life of the cross and Jesus awakens the beauty from her slumber and breaks the spell of dormancy. This ‘X’ marks the spot where treasure lies within the 4 ‘Chester’ corners and this crossing over point is the ‘handle’ to the ‘lid’ of this’ treasure chest’, the lid seal has been broken and now it is time for the lid to come off. As we stood in this ‘no-where’ place on a country lane, cows bellowing in the rain, we called for the authenticity of the truth of the Cross and kissed the muddy ground right beside a sign saying ‘The heart of England way’. That is right, the exact point was at Church End on the heart of England way…..you could not plan it if you tried!
We lit a candle, a pirate treasure chest there and left it burn and spit in the drizzle.
Carrying on underneath Birmingham to just below Worcester we headed for the River Severn. Whilst planning this walk I began to feel strongly about the Severn. Tracing it to its source on Mount Plynlimon near Aberystwyth, Mid-Wales on the west coast I remember walking from Llanelli to Aberystwyth while others went up Plynlimon to pray at the source of 5 rivers, one being the Severn. The second walk I led was between Welshpool and Aberystwyth where this river flows across Wales and then south through the border towns. When it comes to walking over rivers I take the route over the nearest bridge but this time was different. Instead we walked to the river bank with no bridge for miles, to ‘the old Rydd crossing’. There is no ferry there now but ‘Rhydd’ is Welsh for ‘free’, we stood on both sides to honour The Severn and all it has stood for in its indigenous flow, for remaining true to itself and representing that which is not domesticated or tamed in the land.
Here, I need to highlight something that has been carried in these walks that I feel came to completion at this point. In 2007 I had two obsessions, ‘the Lion’ and the word ‘Shumba’. While walking to Cardiff from Leeds in 2007, the word ‘Shumba’ began to repeatedly be in my tongue so much so that others began saying it. After a while ‘shumba’ was so frequent that I began question it and looked it up only to find that it meant ‘Lion’ in Zimbabwean. Mugabe was constantly in the news and it looked like he would be deposed but he was not. If the Lord was calling for himself in this language I knew it must be important and that maybe the issue of Rhodesia and the English empire will be a ‘root’ that must be eventually reached in order to change the ‘fruit’.
After this as I began the ‘bell walks’ in 2008 I noticed there was a white Zimbabwean on every walk which is a ludicrous probability on such small teams. At one point I had 3 ‘white Zims’ on a team of 5! This continued ‘inside the bell’ and on the ‘treasure chest’ walks and sure enough the on the 2 ‘X’ walks this year. I have felt the weight of this at times, a bit like hauling a rock behind us as we walk and with each year its weight has increased. I have known it is significant even though I did not understand what it was fully about. On this walk to the River Severn I had 2 ‘white zims’ walking together who did not know eachother (2 out of a team of 6!), one pre-Mugabe british colonial and one post-Mugabe under his rule. One ‘Zim’ had had a dream of dislodging 2 final bricks of an old foundation in order to rebuild, but then a river had flooded the foundations but the overseer said it was fine and rebuilding would commence the following day. All that has been carried on these walks regarding the relationship between England and Zimbabwe I believe came to completion with these 2 ‘Zims’ walking towards the river finalised this journey and brought it to a head. Now it has been trodden into every furrow for healing to flow and all ‘control’ to be drained out.
There is a woman called Angela Austin who specialises in ‘hidden obedience’ and who walked across Zimbabwe in 1998 and was the first ‘white Zim’ to come on my walks. She has had far more knowledge of what all this has meant as she has quietly supported us from a far. I cannot go into the ins and outs here of what this represents but suffice to say that to purge England of ‘control’ has meant touching the root in Zimbabwe and I fully recognise that Angela has been the unseen backstop, guarantor and safety net for this to seen through. Thank you.
Respect goes to Jackie, Aidrian, Liz, Nicky and Jo who have sewn what needed to be placed in this walk regarding Zimbabwe and England’s role, I know it was not easy at times but much fruit has and is still coming through for you where you literally walked it out.
Over the Malvern hills and through the Wye Valley we continued to the Welsh border. We were nearing Caerleon, a place with royal authority that has jurisdiction over other authorities in the land, where there were many tribes with many chiefs, this was the chief of chieftains, the Pendragon, the root of natural authority in these islands. The other day I came across this;
The Pendrith Collection, which was a collection of Welsh manuscripts, indicate to us that Augustine was met on his arrival in Britain (having been sent here by Pope Gregory to Christianise the Britons) by an already established Christian church. In this collection there is a statement by a number of Christian bishops, protesting about the fact that Augustine was attempting to bring the then established Christian church under the authority of the Roman Pope.
“Be it known and declared that we all individually and collectively and in all humility are prepared to defer to the Church of God and the bishop of Rome and to every sincere and godly Christian so far as to love everyone and according to his degree in perfect charity to assist them all by word and deed in becoming the children of God. But, as to any other obedience we know of none that he who you term the Pope or bishop of bishops can demand. The deference we have mentioned we are ready to pay to him as to every other Christian but in all other respects our obedience is due to the jurisdiction of the bishop of Caerleon (a town in Wales) who is alone our ruler under God to keep us right in the ways of Salvation.”
I was aware that as I completed this walk that it would link Lincoln up directly with this ‘authority of authorities’. Having called for Lincoln as a ‘high place of authority’ and the parent over London, Caerleon was now to become Lincoln’s back-up to strengthen the resolve and those lines of authority. Lincoln is to bring order to London the ‘unruly child’ who has not been parented and to bring boundaries of security.
On the morning before we reached Caerleon, a dear woman Sallyann Wright stood with us, she has such strong ‘Motherhood’ on her and is full of Welsh grace. It was a privilege to stay in her home. As we stood together with Jesus and this Mother, her incredible hidden obedience filled the room and I immediately began to call for all those like her in the land. I could see the ground literally splitting open and releasing women from the earth, they were being shot upwards like geysers and then hovered in mid-air dressed in royal robes and holding children in their arms. These ‘royal mothers’ is a gift that is released in that place to bring the heart of a ‘mum’ to the land, the heart of our Creator who gave birth to creation and cannot forget its child. Lincoln has the arms that bring order and Caerleon has the arms of a Mother to hold London in place.
As we reached the roman amphitheatre in Caerleon, Steve and Jen Hallet met us, seasoned people in the land living in Llandaff, Cardiff which I believe is closely linked with Caerleon through the Welsh priest that St Alban died to save. The treasure chest was completed and declared ‘open’, the link with Lincoln and London was declared ‘open’ and once again we invited Caerleon to burn with conviction, rise in its authority and come into its own. We walked out of the arena through the chariot gateway which faced the SE of England and as Steve H looked he saw a lid open on its hinges to reveal an uncorrupted body which leaped out from where it was buried full of life and vigour as it began to dance across the land towards the SE.
For me it is time to turn on my heels and face the SW with the next 3 walks coming out of Caerleon each to the south coast. So I have unfinished business there and will keep returning until it is done.
My huge thanks to Sally Ann Dyer who hosted us so magnanimously in Loughborough, we were so blessed to be in your home and laugh around your table. A dear couple, Suzanne and Frank Ferret who prepared their home for us to stay near Evesham even though they were away, that was such a blessing, thank you. To James and Sallyann Wright near Caerleon for having us and all you are, again it was a privilege.
To those who walked with me Sarah, Dave, Jan, Jo, Nicky, Lizzie and Annie, thank you for every step and giving yourselves wholeheartedly to this crazy journey.
So much glory on the feet X