Walking the Day of Prayer in Newquay
Often my job in communications for Truro Diocese takes me to places in Cornwall that I haven’t visited, to meet people who ordinarily I wouldn’t have the privilege of meeting, and occasionally to report on events that I probably wouldn’t have gone to over a weekend.
The Diocesan Day of Prayer in Newquay falls into the latter category. Which makes me very grateful for my job. I didn’t know what to expect and, faced with an assortment of different journeys into prayer, I decided the most challenging for me would be a prayer walk around Newquay.
I joined a group led by Bishop Chris and Revd Jem Thorold, Vicar of St Michael’s who were hosting the prayer day. Some of the group were local but others came from all over Cornwall, including Bude, to pray for the town. This felt like such a blessing that both informed and enriched the group as we went from place to place.
From street corners to shopfronts
The walk took us from street corners to shopfronts, sea-life to nightlife, stopping to pray for specific needs for the community, its support system and its people. We prayed with our eyes open, encouraged by Bishop Chris to open our hearts and minds as well, to be directed by God to the people, places and needs that He wanted us to pray for.
It was a powerful experience. It made everything present and pressing. Especially when standing outside the Job Centre, thinking about the difficulties so many of our community face. We prayed for the people using the centre, but also for those working there, that they might have wisdom and sensitivity to deal with those who are often at their most vulnerable.
Hue and cry
We saw the Huer’s Hut in the distance, over-looking the sea, and were reminded of how the huer would stand and watch, calling out to fishermen when shoals of fish were spotted. We learnt how fishermen would circle the shoals, working together to gradually decrease the circle so that every fish was accounted for. It was a wonderful parallel to how good communities could work, looking out for each other, working together and ensuring that no-one gets left behind.
It was Rev Jem’s parish and of course he met people he knew, but he also reached out to visitors, families and passers-by and, because he was wearing his dog-collar, he had access. People instantly felt reassured and responded positively. Having a number of clergy in the group, including a Bishop, made us visible, so people approached us to ask for prayer or to join in.
The walk led us to the Beach Labyrinth, created in the sand by Andrew Nicholson. I was encouraged to step in and picked up a feather to plant in the middle, symbolising surrender, and to take a stone away from the centre to symbolise peace and renewal. It was a first for me and I found the experience really helped me to focus on what was good in my life and what I needed to let go of.
An unexpected part of the experience was retracing my steps to leave – I hadn’t thought beyond getting to the centre! It was a good reminder that we journey out as well as in and it was at this point that I either walked alongside or crossed paths with people. Just like life.
Different ways to pray
Back in the church there were so many ways to experience prayer. There was prayer with icons, praying with art and poetry, Taizé, praying with children and families, youth prayer, Ignation prayer and 24/7 prayer. Beyond the church was a chance to join in with more determined walkers for a section of the Cornish Celtic Way as well as catching the labyrinth before the tide did. All of which created a very special day, completely outside of my usual Saturday experience, making me appreciate what an amazing job I have been given.