Our Easter Pilgrimage 2015
In the lead up to our Easter week, the school community were feeling very vulnerable and sad. However, we all agreed that it would be a fitting tribute to Chris to go ahead with our plans. It was just what we needed to raise our spirits and bring comfort from walking, talking, sharing spiritual reflections on the resurrection led by the children and having fun! In this way we found hope and solace in each other, our Christian beliefs and our wider community, supported by Reverend Valerie Bexon, who accompanied us.
We began our journey at Brimpsfield Church where Year five and Year six children retold the events of how Mary Magdalene found the empty tomb. They also helped us reflect on the significance of these events by sharing their writing, written from the point of view of key disciples, who would have been present. The message of hope was a great start and inspired our day!
We then made our way to Syde Church, stopping on the way for a brief snack, talking and enjoying the magical countryside and signs of spring and new life that we found around us.
Throughout our journey, the Easter message and the events that led to the resurrection was very much with us. Three older boys took the opportunity to visually enact the crucifixion scene on one of the hills as we passed by. Such spiritual moments could not be planned for but happened as the children responded to their environment, the focus of the day and the RE teaching and learning sequences that were a part of the Easter topic that had gone before.
After reaching Syde Church, we explored the ancient grave stones that lay outside, before making our way into the tiny church where we all tried to fit into the very old pews. It was a bit of a squash!
There Year 3 and Year 4 children retold the story of Jesus’ appearance to the scared disciples in the upper room and how Thomas had disbelieved that Jesus could have come amongst them. They also led our reflection by focusing on the symbols of the cross and the empty tomb, their significance for us in our lives and how we can be inspired to follow Jesus today, and find comfort in difficult times. Before moving on we had time to explore the similarities and differences of the Church compared to the others we had visited. There the children experienced the added bonus of a social history lesson as they discussed why the pews had doors on them, how the seats were positioned and why some had their backs to the altar.
In the true spirit of a Pilgrimage, we met people who welcomed us into their homes as a gesture of friendship and kind generosity. We were lucky enough to be invited to have our lunch in the beautiful converted barn at Syde Manor.
We then settled down to listen to the Easter story told by Reverend Val but from a different point of view – the donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalem!
After giving thanks to our hostess, Mrs Penny Wright, properly refreshed and energised, we carried on our journey. The next stop brought us to The Reverend and Mrs Bowden’s small holding were we were welcomed in to meet an array of animals: a black laborador who was patiently awaiting the birth of her puppies, sheep, ducks, hens, cockrels, a shetland pony and even a real life donkey.
Whilst the children groomed and petted her they reflected on the cross clearly marked on her back and remember the story that Reverend Val had told them earlier. Sitting in the spring sunshine, surrounded by our friends, the animals and smiling faces, we once again we felt truly blessed and renewed in the spirit of Easter.
With requests from Reverend Bowden and his wife to bring the children back for a visit soon, we began the last leg of our pilgrimage to St Andrew’s Church in Miserden.
There some of our youngest children, shared their hopes and wishes for their families and friends at Easter time and led our final reflection and prayers.
We gave thanks for the wonderful day we had shared together and the kindnesses that we had experienced along the way before making our way back to school, ready for home.
Many children said that the 2015 Pilgrimage Experience of church, friends and countryside was even better than the previous year. We will look forward to the next in 2016.
We would like to dedicate our Easter Pilgrimage 2015
in loving memory of Mr Chris Barron:
a friend and fellow pilgrim – RIP