Fortunately, we were blessed with fine weather when thirteen of us set off on a circular walk at 11am, from Knighton Lane car park through Knighton woods and Lords Bushes, on the first Thursday of the New Year, with Geoff Packe carrying a Forest Group Flag which he had specially made for the occasion. After an opening prayer by Richard Mortimer in the car park, our first stop was at the Pulpit Oak, a 400 year old tree which marks the boundary between Redbridge and Epping Forest District. This may have been a rallying point for Commoners threatened by enclosure of the forest in the 19th century. It was easy to imagine this, standing under this noble tree which has seen so many changes in its life span. Starting the Journey was the theme of the readings and prayers there, led by St. James’ URC. Then we continued our walk to the magnificent pine tree near the lake, where Janet Jackson from Ray Lodge URC, did some readings and prayers on the theme of Stumbling Stones, thinking about growing stronger through adversity.
We then walked on over the frosty ground, through some muddy patches, until we came to the unusual Red Oak Tree, much taller than the common English oak, with its pointed, red leaves strewn beneath it. There Sandra Milne from Chingford URC led us, with a reading and a prayer, thinking about Directions and Getting Lost- thankfully we didn’t during the walk! From there we walked to Jericho Plain where Ulrike led us with the theme of Promise, giving thanks for what has been and asking for courage to keep on going.
At several points during the walk we sang, Walk in the light and I want to walk with Jesus Christ, appropriate hymns for our walk together.
Our penultimate stop was beside a small pond where Richard led us again in prayer and when we had returned to the start of our walk, under another very old oak tree, we read together The Pilgrim Prayer and had a final blessing from Ulrike. It had been a lovely walk surrounded by God’s creation, worshipping together and enjoying each other’s company on the way. Some of us then enjoyed a simple meal together at the Woodford Manse before returning home. It had been a good experience of a different way of worshipping together.