This year’s project was more than ever a place to find warmth and acceptance. A place
where people found rest, friends and a sense of family, to relieve the stress and
loneliness of their normal lives. It became a safe place to share griefs kept hidden,
health worries held in secret and to realise that we are not alone.
ACross Country: a place of Adventure and Stillness,
to be more fully ourselves, with others, our world,
and with God.
Adventuring side by side, we learn each other’s story, hopes and fears. Hanging off
the edge of the cliff for real is not far off how life feels for many of these friends
we have made –ropes feel shockingly thin when your life hangs by one.
On a blustery Friday, 32 people from 14 nationalities start the awkward process of
getting know each other. There are barriers of race, religion, age, status, and fear
to be navigated as we fill in forms, share out waterproof coats and shoes, and bundle
into the minibus and cars.
As we arrive on a windy hilltop to begin the night walk, the group is fragmented
and cautious. By the time we have crossed rivers, navigated styles and gates, muddied
our boots, and stumbled our way to the bunk house together, we are well on the way
to becoming a community.
St Augustine’s group to Grassington Bunk Barn 2017.
Camp fires and sleeping outside is not very far from the experiences of people who
have travelled thousands of miles to the relative safety of Britain. Yet this is
different because the fire is with friends, and the sleep out is in safety.
It is easy to underestimate the power of trust given to others, from a person who
has learnt to be suspicious of everyone to survive; or the vulnerability shown by
one who has had to be so strong for so long. It is with this in mind that the joy,
laughter, dancing, silence and praying shared this weekend become miraculous. A precious
gift from God.