Robert Watson, a Past Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, and his wife Nely, both members of Foothills St Martin’s Forrestfield Uniting Church, used their time of physical distancing during COVID-19 to experience Perth in a whole new way.
During the run of the COVID-19 related restrictions in Western Australia, as part of our regular exercise, we have been walking the banks of the Swan and Canning Rivers. We believe this has been healthy for our body, mind, soul and we think, relationship.
We walked both the south and north bank of the Swan River from Midland to Fremantle. In truth we walked it twice because we would park our car and walk a number of kilometres, open our thermos and have a coffee, and then walk back to our car. Then we would return the next time to where we left off and repeat the process.
We locals tend to have our favourite sites or sections of the river and walk them repeatedly but seldom do we take the opportunity to stretch ourselves a bit further. In doing this we saw the river and the life it supports in a whole new light. Not only could we appreciate how it was the life-blood of a struggling colony nearly two hundred years ago, but in places we could try to imagine ourselves viewing it 20 000 years ago. It was quite serendipitous and in its own way a type of pilgrimage.
I am very aware that a pilgrimage can be a sacred journey, undertaken for a spiritual purpose, and that pilgrims are different from tourists: they travel for spiritual reasons, not just to relax or for fun. Pilgrimage, does however have within it a search for meaning, purpose, values or truth.
We also know that pilgrimage is not a vacation; it is a transformational journey during which change takes place. New insights are given. Deeper understanding is attained. New and old places in the heart are visited. Blessings are received. Life is seen with different eyes. Nothing will ever be quite the same again.
COVID-19 gave us the time and opportunity.