First, acknowledgment of our gracious and generous hosts, Lynne and Mike Downes, who welcomed us into their home, fed us so well, and gave us a place to lay out tired bodies. Thank you so much.
With a long walk ahead, we left another wonderful scene beside the ocean and began early this morning. God provided a glorious sunrise to send us on our way.
On Friday, Bishop had mentioned to Chief Recalma that the eagles seemed to be following us as we walked. Chief Michael replied, "Of course they are." A mystery to us and a natural thing to First Peoples that we are learning to accept.
So it was again today, that we walked with the eagles and the joyful sounds of song birds along the way.
Rev Twiddy and a few others from his congregation joined as we diverted from the highway up a long hill to a path through the woods to lunch at St Mark in Qualicum Beach. Joined by Rev Susan and her folks and by Ian Alexander from Christ Church Cathedral, we walked along a path through the woods, able to observe creation in the quiet, away from the noise of the road. At St Mark, we watched the production of palm crosses and some of us learned to make them. "The best lunch we have had," said Jim- cheese on hot cross buns and cookies (apologies to Marcia whose soup lunches have been wonderful).
After lunch, we were off to Coombs, joined by Rev Will and Melissa from Tofino and others from Port Alberni. Our group was growing as we progressed south.
About 4 km from Coombs, we diverted onto the old highway, which is closed to traffic. As we entered what we knew to be a quiet route, Bishop asked that we walk in silence, paying attention to creation and listening to what God was saying through it.
Before we rejoined the new road just west of Coombs, we stopped to share reflections on the question. A theme that emerged was that nature was reclaiming what human hands have allocated to the road as trees closed in from both sides. One person offered that in the long distant future, there would still be a memory of human intervention in the remnants of broken asphalt as nature took back the entire space. All is us reported that we were more aware as we walked without talking - our thoughts stimulated by the important question.
In Coombs, we were met by a large contingent from Port Alberni in this quirky little town that has become a delightful tourist destination. Here Bishop got an ice cream cone as he visited with old friends from his time in Port Alberni.
During the planning of the SJ, Bishop had been firm that we divert to Coombs to make it easier for folks from Port Alberni and further west to join us. The welcome we received as we reached the Goats on the Roof proved him right.
After a respite for conversation, hugs, and of course ice cream, we were off again, this time with a bigger group. Now 17 joined Bishop for the final stretch into St Anne and St Edmund and a wonderful feast prepared by the Qualicum First Nations people.
Here we were met by Rev Andrew and visited the ancient and historic St Anne's, a beautiful church and one of the oldest in the valley.
Reflections were shared and again some profound insights and much appreciation expressed to Bishop for his leadership in initiating the Sacred Journey.
As our numbers increase, the bounty of energy is spurring us on and sustaining us as our feet grow sore and our bodies weary.
More to come...
Wayne for the team