On January 1 2021, I set off on a pilgrimage to Glasgow. Later this year the COP26 Conference will meet in Glasgow over 12 days in November with the goal of ‘uniting the world to tackle climate change’. A growing number of people around the UK are setting aside time in their days to walk the distance from their homes to the conference. While no one is literally walking to Glasgow, we are ticking off the miles in our local communities. Learning to love our local areas is an important way of learning to care for the global world.
A pilgrimage is often a solo journey and self-reflection is certainly a part of this one. However the core value of the Get to Glasgow community is relationship. Though apart for now, we are all sharing in the same discussion questions each week and so there is a unity in our focus. Stories are also shared as well as tips and walking routes. The pilgrimage is enabling me to engage with the climate crisis in a way that is not fear-driven, overwhelming, or isolating, but is manageable and sustainable. The heavy burden is not my own to carry, but a shared journey of prayer, attentiveness, simplicity and exploration. At times it is deeply challenging; a conversation requires a direct response or change in my habits and lifestyle. But already this journey has become more than mere problem-solving, it is about connecting in a time of separation. It has brought about stillness in a time of panic. It has made space for the important things like splashing in puddles, sipping a hot flask of tea on a frosty morning, catching glimpses of owls, watching hundreds of Lapwings flying together over a lake or sharing a moment with a Muntjac Deer as it freezes on the path ahead.
I have recently embarked on another journey – an MA in theology. I spend most of my week on my own, reading and writing in my room at home. Many of us right now are living in our minds and our worlds have become a lot smaller. Having the balance of engaging my brain in worship as well as my whole body though walking the pilgrimage, I am reminded of Jesus’ incarnational ministry. God took on a body, God became a part of his creation and walked among it. He taught of the wild flowers, the grass, the birds, the sea, wheat, bread, water and fish. And he not only taught of these things, he held them in his very hands and felt them under his feet. So in his likeness, we are called to be his body – his hands and his feet today.
If you would like to get involved and to have a grounding focus in a time of uncertainty, then check out our website and sign up at gettoglasgow.com. We look forward to walking with you and getting to know you more.
This ‘Meet the Community’ article was written by Emily Allen, for the Wild Christian email, ‘Nature and loving your local.’ Emily is an MA student of Systematic and Philosophical Theology and lives in Rushden, Northamptonshire. In her spare time you will find her exploring the local area, bird watching with her husband or enjoying warming winter meals sourced from the seasonal produce from their local farm shop.