We went on pilgrimage to Russia. Remember the year of the Moscow smog? We were there. Three days in Moscow, seven days in Divyevo, where I fell in love with St. Seraphim.
St Seraphim regularly encountered the Mother of God. She told him to set up a monastery for nuns, which was quite something in 1825, so he did. She then told him to tell the nuns to dig a ditch round the perimeter of the monastery. Which they did. She then told him to tell the nuns to walk around the the perimeter every evening in prayer. Which they did. And they still do, even after being closed down for 70 years during the period of communism. After vespers and their evening meal, the nuns walk in silence along the path holding their prayer ropes and saying the Jesus Prayer.
The Russian word for ditch is “kanavka”, so it is the Kanavka Walk. The path is paved now, about a mile long, and is open to the public. It can take 15 minutes to get round, or it can take an hour – go at your own pace. We did it a few times, and it was a very powerful way of praying.
So when I came to Bensham, that’s what I did. I walk the streets of Bensham saying the Jesus Prayer, praying for the people I see, for the streets in which I walk, for the shops and businesses. Sometimes people stop me and ask me to pray for them. Sometimes they ask for a blessing. Sometimes I even get invited into the pub for a drink. Mostly people ignore me.
So I ramble the streets and I ramble in the pulpit – preaching is where I do my theological thinking. I also have a Rambling Rector rose planted in the front garden.