Companions learning to saunter

We began our time at the bandstand listening to the birdsong and sounds of people and vehicles as we stilled ourselves before Steve spoke the following words:

We have learnt that as we gather in the bandstand each Sunday,

We meet with God

We meet with God’s Creation

We meet with God’s People

We need to slow ourselves to become aware of this,

We need to slow our breathing, to focus our thinking, to attune our spirit – otherwise we will miss the thinness of this time and place

Great and wonderous is God               

Great and wonderous is God’s Creation

Great and wonderous are our companions here and elsewhere                     

Blessed be our Father/Mother God

Blessed be Jesus

Blessed be the holy and wild Goose                  Amen

We then read the following:

On Sauntering…..

There are always some people in the mountains who are known as “hikers.” They rush over the trail at high speed and take great delight in being the first to reach camp and in covering the greatest number of miles in the least possible time. They measure the trail in terms of speed and distance and difficulty and time.

One day as I was resting in the shade, Mr. Muir* overtook me on the trail and began to chat in that friendly way in which he delights to talk with everyone he meets. I said to him: “Mr. Muir, someone told me you did not approve of the word ‘hike.’ Is that so?” His blue eyes flashed, and with his Scottish accent he replied: “I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike!

“Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”

John Muir lived up to his doctrine. He was usually the last man to reach camp. He never hurried. He stopped to get acquainted with individual trees along the way. He would hail people passing by and make them get down on hands and knees if necessary to see the beauty of some little bed of almost microscopic flowers. Usually, he appeared at camp with some new flowers in his hat and a little piece of fir bough in his buttonhole.

Now, whether the derivation of saunter Muir gave me is scientific or fanciful, is there not in it another parable? There are people who “hike” through life. They measure life in terms of money and amusement; they rush along the trail of life feverishly seeking to make a dollar or gratify an appetite. How much better to “saunter” along this trail of life, to measure it in terms of beauty and love and friendship! How much finer to take time to know and understand the men and women along the way, to stop a while and let the beauty of the sunset possess the soul, to listen to what the trees are saying and the songs of the birds, and to gather the fragrant little flowers that bloom all along the trail of life for those who have eyes to see!

You can’t do these things if you rush through life in a big red automobile at high speed; you can’t know these things if you “hike” along the trail in a speed competition. These are the peculiar rewards of the man who has learned the secret of the saunterer!

Albert W Palmer 1911

*John Muir (1838 –1914), also known as “John of the Mountains” and “Father of the National Parks“, was a Scottish-born American naturalist, author, environmental philosopherbotanistzoologistglaciologist, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States.

We walked without words to read, then, sauntering and observing and lingering… before returning to prayer and then sharing bread and wine with our Companions liturgy


As we saunter on our pilgrimage, we open our eyes to the needs of this world, to the needs of others and to the transforming power of God around and amongst us. We offer our prayers to be agents of change even when we feel powerless to be so. And so we ask:

God of love and justice comfort us where we are unsettled and unsettle us where we are comfortable

We offer you those we know who need Jesus now… (we name them now)

God of love and justice, comfort those who are unsettled and unsettle those who are comfortable

We offer you our planet, its health, its life, its turmoil and we pray for all those affected by climate change, for those working to reverse the damage that has been done and for those in positions of power and influence

God of love and justice, comfort those who are unsettled and unsettle those who are comfortable

And we offer ourselves. Send us out to be Lamed Vavniks in the places we find ourselves and for the people we encounter. That we might live abundantly, generously, gratefully and openly. We invite you, Mother-Father, Saviour-Friend, Spirit-Companion to work in us, through us, for us, despite us.


A gentle, reflective morning which felt very special.