This is part two of my Blog called Pilgrim. I am setting out this August on a pilgrimage from Winchester Cathedral to York Minster and will journal each day’s experience. Thinking of this journey has caused me to reflect on my Christian pilgrimage to date and what follows in story form relate to key change moments in my walk.
The road in those early years tended to be fairly flat and unremarkable. Of course there were twists and turns but my eyes stayed focused on my feet, fearful at any moment I might slip and lose the highway for ever. It happened one day that the path turned upwards and became more hilly and wooded and behind one such summit I heard music, beautiful music that rippled and coursed through glade and hedgerow. Laughter echoed from bough to bough as there before me appeared two women clothed in beautiful shining fabric of sequins and tassels. Twins clothed identically and looking to unaccustomed eye exactly the same. One was called Joy and the other Grace. I was bewitched at both their beauty as well as their kind words.
They bade me sit and washed my soiled tunic and bathed my blistered feet. And then in earnest talked about my journey!
“I have found the road to be hard and the way difficult. I have grown tired with rule upon rule, my thought life condemns me and I consider myself worse now than when I first begun."
Both simultaneously burst into fits of laughter, "my my you're a serious one," Joy said, “it seems to me you need to be released from your prison of sobriety, joy is your inheritance and but the simplest form of gratitude”.
"Laughter and fun are frivolous activities and should be shunned by any serious disciple of Christ," I responded. This set them off once again into peals of laughter so much so that tears ran down their cheeks.
"Joy is the serious business of heaven," Grace said, “its absence makes one weak and prone to spiritual malady". “Are you Malodius or just out of tune?” said Joy falling into giggles once more.
My mind raced wanting to defend myself yet strangely my heart beat faster and ached for whatever elixir these women had clearly drunk.
"Are you drunk?" I asked in my most pious voice.
"Yes," they replied, “a thousand times yes and so must you with living water that flows from the Godhead. It is your birthright."
"Give me this water,” I pleaded, holding out cupped hands to take from their supply.
"Hands aren't sufficient, nor cup, nor pot. It is an ocean of divine love you must swim in and swallow until every pore is saturated in the divine."
“Won’t I be drowned and lose my life?” I asked.
"You have never said a truer word," they replied.
Lovingly they came to me and placed their hands upon my bowed head. I wept, then laughed, then burst into song as liquid love squeezed itself into my mortal frame. How long I stayed in this place, I cannot say.
I know as I left that hill and as I embraced these dear sisters, my step was lighter, my heart happier and my tongue released in praise to my king.
Any first time reader of the book of Acts cannot miss the vital importance of the being filled, the outpouring from heaven, the reviving power, or coming upon of the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of the promise of the Father for the last days, "John baptised with water but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit." Acts 11:16
The baptism in the Spirit is as real today as that first moment the Holy Spirit came upon me. It was like standing beneath a waterfall of love and light. It transformed me into a timid creature into much more of an ambassador for Jesus.
The women in this parable are combinations of special women I have met on the journey, women like Heather my wife, Vanessa Bartlett, Ruth Haslam, Grace Hosier, and Kate Walker, and true to the twin analogy Jacqueline and Jennifer from India.