As we made our way along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path today, we decided to forgo the remainder of our walk north of St Davids Head. After coming from St Justinians around Point of St John and on to White Sands, we walked up to a rocky point on St Davids Head and enjoyed the view of St George's Channel and a hazy horizon toward Ireland.
Ben and I had spoken of a detour up to a high spot called Carn Llidi. We committed to it after a short break and half our our lunch.
The 200 feet gain in elevation was well worth the climb. We could easily see the entirety of St Davids peninsula with the City of St Davids. Beyond we could see our previous Path around St Brides Bay.
This detour separated us from most of the group who ventured on toward Aberrddi. But the change in perspective was worth it!
another important Celtic saint and the location of a chapel erected at the birthplace of her son David. This structure was erected in 1934. The ruins of an earlier structure are nearby.
As we walked today around the westernmost land in southern Wales, I was impressed with the current of Ramsey Sound. It was moving fast to the south. Large seabirds floated much faster than we walked.
We stopped in Porth Clais for our packed lunch. There were fifteen to twenty small boats beached at the low tide in this tidal inlet at the mouth of River Alun.
After Lunch, The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path rewarded us with views of vertical rock exposures and tidal arches (washed out holes through the rock).
Then, I caught sight of St Nons Chapel. It was a point of great joy to step closer to it and think about those to be included in midday prayers.
We stepped up the hill and through the gate to enter a Retreat House and Chapel yard. Five of us took backpacks and hats off and entered the chapel.
A prayer book was opened for a daily prayer. The iconic stain-glassed window showing St Non filtered the light down across an altar and about 20 chairs.
I prayed for our walk, for our common journey, for ancient and current, for those with newly found illness, for my family, for the travelers Along the Way, and for the five of us sitting in this small chapel along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.
Along the Way
After arriving in St Davids this morning, our group of four wandered down High Street to the market Cross and on to The Cross Hotel for lunch. And after lunch we drifted in the cool mist further down the hill to St Davids Cathedral. Looking down into the area enclosed by stone walls, we wondered about entry access for a transport chair.
[Note: Chair is the difference between a large old church building and a cathedral. The bishop's chair or seat is located in a Cathedral.]
As I pushed friend Karen Goodman in the transport chair down the asphalt road-ramp, we all stared in awe at the exterior majesty of the cathedral. The photo above is taken about half way down the ramp to the south entrance.
We rolled in the south door to the Nave and the mystery of this spiritual adventure resonated a deep peace in my soul. We then sat quietly soaking in the physical beauty and architecture of the interior.
I could imagine the sounds of the pipe organ or the voices of choirs. Peace. Community. History.
With more to experience, we moved about as a group walking with one friend riding in a transport chair. A beautiful biblical connection developed in my mind from Mark's gospel, 2nd chapter, the story of four friends searching for access to bring a paralyzed friend closer to Jesus.
Our rider is one of the most spiritual people I know, that is my friend Karen. And being connected in group with her and being conscious of the need to have walk-assist or transport chair access for her became the lens through which I viewed this cathedral.
I would not change anything about today. I was not leading. I was following the lead of the one riding. We adjusted our route to the north entrance via an outside ramp which yielded access for us to come closer to the Quire, to St David's Shrine, to the Holy Trinity Chapel, to Lady Chapel, and to art work displayed in the north and south chapel aisles.
While we toured the North Quire Aisle, a young man near us in the North Transept uncovered a piano and proceeded to play and sing as part of a presentation to middle-school aged students who were near St David's Shrine.
Serendipity is an understatement. The two Lauras- Laura Harris and Laura, Karen's sister, moved about us examining all the many treasures of this space. Karen sat in her transport chair no more than ten feet from the piano. It was as if the music had opened the final access point to entering the mystery of peace in this place.
We all reconvened and continued our self-guided tour. But in that moment, it became clear to me that an experience of pilgrimage, clarified with spiritual friendship and the need to find access, would become the theological context for the day and maybe of this adventure.
And the notion of a seat or chair that provides access to experience the divine among us... well, ... I am fortunate to be one that gets to push the transport chair of a dear friend who travels the same path.
Along the Way
Walk with us as we enjoy a Walking Holiday in Wales... the views and the history of this area have captured our hearts. Our first accommodation at the Anchor Guesthouse in Broad Haven is a lovely place with an iconic beach view of St Brides Bay. Helen Parry, and her family and staff, have lavished us with hospitality. The first two daily walks were a bit warm as the temperature rose to near 85 degrees, but today is overcast with temps in low 60s.
This Spiritual Adventure comes at a transition in the itinerant ministry as Laura and I leave Laredo and move to Hunt, Tx. The time away is a re-focusing of sorts. As we tell our Hiking friends about our time in Laredo, we realize how much we love serving there and the relationships developed over the four years.
This trip also gives us the time to prepare for our time to come in Hunt. We look forward with gratitude for the appointment and the opportunity to serve in the Hill Country district of our Rio Texas Conference UMC.
Today is a Day for writing as we skip a section of the Path we already walked during warmups. It is raining and the bay is foggy. I found a place in the sunroom at Anchor Guesthouse where the full view is available.
Majesty and Mystery
Along the Way
As we strolled along the shore of Lake Windermere near Ambleside, Lady Laura and I caught a glimpse of the lake that stopped us both in our tracks.
It is this image that captures my sentiment for tonight's Birthday celebration for Laura - at peace with one another and with life. We give thanks for this day and share many blessings with you all - family, friends, and fellow travelers ...
Along the Way
Challenging, tiring, exhilarating, exhausting, and so much more. This is our first trip to the U.K. and we chose "cheap ticket airlines" - we are having fun waiting and now hope to arrive no more than 24 hours behind schedule.
It has been a great opportunity to interact with restless and angry passengers. Sharing a calm presence and holding a peaceful space has been our "work" since leaving Texas to travel to Wales.
Our eventual goal is to walk a 120 mile section of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path on southwest coast of Wales.
Check out the video embedded in this page for a glimpse of what we hope to experience.
grace and peace
Along the Way
In the midst of packing to move from Laredo, Tx to Hunt, Tx and in the transition as itinerant minister in the United Methodist Church, I take some personal time today to create a new personal webpage.
This will be the place for my future journal posts, trail photos, river pictures, spiritual encouragement, and connections to fellow pilgrims Along the Way.
Along the Way with Pastor Paul
Author: Paul E Harris
Journal posts from a pastor and spiritual friend