Showing posts from 2008

The Rising of the Sun and the Running of the Deer…

It’s great to get outside on a winters day, to stretch the legs and walk off the turkey. 21st December is the shortest day. From then on the days will begin to lengthen and the singing of the birds surpass organ music and singing in the choir! If you want a winter walk that with the sight of deer, head for Holkham. I you leave the car park in front of the Hall and head right around the lake and you will be on the Holkham Lake Path -leaflets are available at Holkham or on-line at I can guarantee skeins of pink footed geese flying overhead and herds of deer sheltering beneath the trees. The deer are quite used to people, are tame and are very photogenic.Following the path round the lake and into the woods you’ll soon come to the Holkham church. Heavily restored, it’s only the dedication, the site its self and west wall that give clues to its ancient foundation. Perched on a hillock, it is dedicated to St. Withbura, the 7th century royal princess-turn…

A walk in Broadland turns one’s mind to fishing …

Photo by Ray Jones and Alan Price is used with permission from Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Bright red hips and haws hang in the scrub. A party of long-tailed tits squeak noisily through the branches. The board-walk runs through reeds at the river side no longer busy with the hullabaloo of holidaymakers and the chugging of a dozen diesel engines. Autumn has come to Broadland and quietness cloaks the scene like the early morning mist.

Less than a mile from Woodbastwick on the Ranworth road, where the road turns sharp right, a lane runs down to the river. The walk starts from a small car park just across the river from Horning’s Ferry Inn. It’s wheelchair friendly all the way – about a mile - to Cockshoot Broad. In summer the water lilies along the dyke are sensational!

Along the path fishing platforms jut out through the reeds. Perhaps you’ll stop and chat to a fisherman as you saunter. Walking by the water and talking to the fishermen are Christ-like activities – the easiest …

St.Fursey Pilgrimage 08

There was standing room only at Burgh Castle church on Saturday 4th October when the annual pilgrimage of the Fursey Pilgrims took place. Joining the pilgrims this year was Fr Nicolas Jouy, the Parish Priest of Peronne in the Somme area of France. St. Fursey died before returning to England from France in the year 650 AD. His shrine was established at Peronne.

The service only took places after the pilgrims had refreshed themselves at the Church
Farm pub. Some had earned a good lunch by walking the Breydon Water path from Great Yarmouth train station. Others had come long distances to honour St.Fursey so they could not be denied a delicious carvery meal looking out across the water to the Berney Arms windpump and the Fleggs.

Pere Nicholas preached the sermon developing the idea of ecumenism as putting the pieces of a jig-saw together - it may seem impossible at first, there should be no attempt to force pieces together where they do not belong, miraculously we find there is a fit betwee…

Whatsoever walks in the paths of the Sea

On an autumn day, where cattle grazed, I crossed marshy fields to the beach. Ragged Robin, the summer’s last flowers danced in the breeze. The first skeins of wintering geese honked in the sky. Beyond the dunes 30 seals were hauled up on the sands, lolling around like so many enormous slugs.More were out at sea impersonating inquisitive black Labradors. I sat. How therapeutic it is to sit with seals! They have the art of being and not doing! I’d parked at the National Trust’s Horsey Mere car park. There are toilets and a café open every day to the end of October and at week ends through November.I’d used the permissive footpath that leads off from the other side of the road - if you are at all in doubt ask at the café they’ll direct you! Once on the beach, turn right and you soon come to the seals . A few are there most of the year but they turn up in numbers in September and October.My way took me back past the pub – refreshments here are recommended - and crossed the main road to th…

A quieter calmer Walsingham

Remembering how they “ went with the throng,* and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving.” (Psalm 42)
A great and holy place I know! But when I’ve been there on my own, I find it too restless with pilgrims to settle to prayer. Scilla Landale introduced me to a quieter, calmer Walsingham. Here are some highlights:-
1) On a raised section of lawn in the Abbey grounds is a six inch wooden square. It marks the site of the original place of pilgrimage. I stood on the spot, took in the very English country scene and reflected about the vision that had led the Lady Richeldis to build the replica of Jesus’ and Mary’s Nazareth home.
2)Crossing the grass to where the Priory’s high altar once stood, I tried to imagine the generations of Christians, from 1061 to the present day who had come here to pay homage to the human Jesus and the mother who had nurtured him. I marvelled anew at the mystery of the incarnation - God in Man! Heaven in the ord…

John the Baptist and his Dad

I'm just into name dropping now! Did I tell you about going to visit the head of John the Baptist at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus or St. Zecharia at the Umayyad Mosque in Allepo

I wasn't much impressed by the tomb of Salladin but felt I need to show my respects and apolgise for Richard Coeur de Lion. And I wasn't too fussed by visiting the chapel at the place where St. Paul was allegedly let down from the walls. They would, I'm sure have chosen a place well away from a gate and sentries if he was making a get away! I liked the House of Annanias. That was believable !

OK if you are doing believable then, no I don't think it is John the Baptist's relics. There are two churches in France that claim that distinction. One having the head of John the Baptist as a young man! But I liked being welcome in the Mosque and having the Prophet John the Baptist, Peace be upon him, in common with the Moslems and I liked praying there and daring to hope that the prophecy of I…

Kissing Lazarus

There's a story untold in the Bible how the returned to life Lazarus went on to be the first Bishop of Larnaka and in the Church of St. Lazarus in Larnaka you can see, in a crypt beneath the high altar, the stone coffin in which he lay.

I went down into the crypt,  reminded  of both the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  I've kissed the rock in both places! But there was to be no kissing Lazarus, yet!

The coffin is empty! He has not yet been raised from the dead a second time, in spite of the empty tomb! His body was nicked by the high principled Crusaders who took it off to Marsailles! There is no need to rely on a Homeopathic Theory of relics - there's a holy place where the relic used to be - to get close and cuddly with Lazarus. They conveniently left a portion of his skull behind.

It is kept, upstairs in the church, in a golden relique in the church!

Kneeling in the near darkness of the crypt tomb gave a profound experience my …

Committed to Growth

The Church of England Diocese of Norwich has a bad attack of the intiatives - caught it from the politicians I shouldn't wonder! Committed to Growth, it's called! For busy church people it can seem like a burden - Do something more! Be more committed! it seems to shout. Those of us with long memories and a touch of the cynic about us remember Moving Forward and from Maintenance to Mission ( nobody really wanted people to cease maintenance on the 600+ medieval churches in the diocese to cease from maintenance no matter what the slogan said!)

I was turning these things over in my mind as I hiked through Cypriot vinyards. I knew the Allegory of the Vine (John 15) as well as the next well educated person in the pew. What I had forgotten, even if I had originally known, was how harshly a vine-dresser cuts back.

There in the vinyard were these dead looking sticks. That's what Committed to Growth looks like!
©Richard Woodham 2008

Pilgrim Path 2008

Accompanied Walks in 2008

On pilgrimage we are brothers and sisters of Christ sharing the path and one another’s company.Mindful of our own and our companions’ need for silence or talk—we share bothWe try to be aware of the presence of the risen Lord who promises to be with us ‘til the end of timeHe is the way who’s gracious call we follow.Little journeys are sacramental of the bigger journeyWe make space to consider the birds of the air and flowers of the field andExpect to be refreshed
You are invited to join us on the following days:-1st July at 6.30 p.m. meet on the southern end of the seafront at Walcott Gap. Map Ref:- 35915,32955. An gentle walk along the seashore turning in land and returning via Broomholm Priory for a fish supper on the shore16th August at 1130 a.m. meeting at 40 Anchor Street, Coltishall we proceed by land or river to St. Peter, Belaugh and return for a barbecue and shared lunch. (Please let us know a few days in advance if you intend coming to this one!)4th Oc…

On yer bike!

The long summer days and quiet Norfolk lanes make this a great time to get on a bike! It’s a great way of seeing the country and a perfect way to get the exercise that’s so good for you. With legs pumping and heart rate raised one can feel one’s self unwind as spinning wheels eat up the miles. Is it sometime since you were in the saddle - perhaps not since you were a kid? The sheer exhilaration of going downhill with the wind in your hair hasn’t altered. It’s still great fun!Fun remains an un-negotiable aspect of Christian living, part of the child-likeness that allows entry to the Kingdom of God! Besides, rising fuel costs and the need to reduce our carbon footprint, makes cycling a moral choice. There’s no better time to give it a try!Gliding through country lanes gives an opportunity to consider the flowers of the field and the birds of the air. And if while peddling you encounter a burning bush or pearl of great price it is easy to stop and look and wonder. Praying’s easier too! P…

Taxonomy as Prayer

The names of wild flowers are a poetry all of their own. “Wood anemone, ramsons, bird cherry , bluebell….” Just the mention of bluebells conjures up images of a bright blue, sun dappled carpet on a green wood’s floor, all fresh and new. If I concentrate on the inner vision I can almost hear the sound of a woodpecker hammering and feel the sun’s warmth on my skin fade as I walk into dappled shade. And there’s a sense in the vision of a spiritual presence too – the “sound of the Lord God walking in the Garden”.As I recite more names, the images become more detailed ……… “early purple orchid, wood spurge, hairy St John’s wort, woodruff, herb Paris, twayblade, yellow archangel…..” soon I can (almost) hear birdsong!Nowhere in Genesis does the story-teller recount that God brought the flowers of the field before Man/Adam “to see what he would call them”!But we are told about the naming of animalsin Genesis 2. 18 and following!Considering/wondering and uttering names – be they common or scien…

Blood, Baptism and Mermaids

The path leads downhill through woods, to open park land with views over the sea. Turn right in front of the big house and you come to the village of Upper Sheringham. The church is dedicated to All Saints. It’s very beautiful, prayerful and welcoming. Visitors are invited to make themselves a drink. A kettle and all the other bits and pieces are left out on a table.

Outside the church a spring of bright water bubbles up from the depths of the earth,. It has been quenching thirsts since first humans passed this way. I wondered if the first Christians were baptised in this water. The walls that bound the springhead and the pool around it were built to celebrate the end of the Napoleonic Wars. An inscription reads “Peace 1814”. I imagined the water of baptism washing away the blood and grime of battle – the water and the blood! How the world needs that purification still!

Taking a little water on the tips of my right hand I blessed myself remembering my baptism. The words of the book R…

Holy Rood of Bromholme

I parked on the promenade at Walcott and headed towards Mundesley. Gulls wheeled overhead while others stood at the tide line. Near the shoreline Sandeling ran about like clockwork toys on the sand and Turnstones, well, turned stones! In the bitter wind I thought of Mary. Her name in Hebrew Miryam is derived (some say) from the words Mar Yam, Bitter Sea. Bitter wind! Bitter sea! It seemed about right for a Lenten walk!
At the end of a line of bungalows a flight of steps led off the beach. If you come this way you can’t mistake it! There’s a red dog poo bin at the top! From there I followed the rutted track and crossed the main road. Ahead of me was the archway and ruined gatehouse of what had been Bromholme Priory – my destination! The wonder-working Holy Rood of Bromholme, to which pilgrims flocked, was said to be a piece of the True Cross. Found by St. Helena in Jerusalem, it had been brought to England after Constantinople fell to the Muslim armies. After the dissolution of …

A Walk in Norwich Cathedral

When it’s cold, wet and dark before tea time how nice it would be to go for a walk inside. You can do it! A handy guide “A Walk Round Norwich Cathedral” is available from the Visitors Desk

As I wandered I stopped to look and wonder, think and pray. It’s not escapism! The Chapel of the Holy Innocents is dedicated to victims of persecution and cruelty in every age!At St. Luke’s Chapel, I contemplated the beautifully painted reredos thatre-tells the story ofChrist’s Passion. It was commissioned in 14th Century to celebrate the crushing of the Peasant’s Revolt by the soldier/bishop Henry Despencer. It’s said that Henry returned from his victory to celebrate Holy Communion his hands still red with the blood!

At the Royal Norfolk Regiment’s Chapel I looked at the Book of Remembrance. The 1st Royal Anglian’s who carry the regiment’s tradition today are fresh back from Afghanistan and not unscathed.I remembered the dead, the grieving, the injured and families! Finally, sitting in the Bauchun Ch…