As many of you will know, our Minister Jim Barr is a Pilgrim steeped in the Celtic tradition of peregrinatio, that wandering on land and sea that characterised the Celtic monks of the 6th-8th centuries. Of Scots extraction (generations ago) he is an Australian who seeks a spiritual engagement with the mystery of this continent and its ancient civilisations through a respectful journeying through country – that reality of place revered and understood by First Nations Australians.
As such, Jim is undertaking a range of ‘pilgrim’ journeys, which he will be posting at his own blog, pilgrimstaff.net, but which we’ll also be sharing here!
A training walk today – just a few kilometres around the Bay to prepare for a longer walk on Friday.
I started down through the Forest of the coastal reserve. On reaching the foot of the hill I turn northeast along the beach.
The beach at Waratah Bay curves around past the settlements of Walkerville, Waratah Bay and Sandy Point. As I walk the birds are twittering in the forest on my left and the waves are lapping the ancient rocks to the right.
Some of the oldest rocks in Victoria are found along this stretch of coast. These beautiful eroded beds lie close the the ‘corner where the beach turns from the northeast toward the east.
The threatened hooded plover nests in this beach. Walking these sands reminds us of the fragility of nature and the damage humans are doing to the environment.
Human habitation on this coast goes back many Millenia. Occasional shell middens testify to earliest settlement but many have been scattered by the sea. More recent settlement is witnessed by the occasional ‘pebble’ of weathered hand-made brick dating to 19th century like that below.
The Forest comes right down the beach.
Since medieval times the scallop shell with its radiating lines from the hinge or nodal point of the shell has been the symbol of the pilgrim. “All roads lead to Rome, or Jerusalem, or Santiago de Compostela.” But Celtic pilgrimage has no destination, just hopeful wandering ‘to a land that I will show you’.
I sometimes think the shells on this beach are a better symbol of the twisted, varied, sometimes damaged, often beautiful architecture of life’s journey.
Give me my scallop-shell of quiet/ my staff of faith to lean upon/ my scrip of joy – immortal diet!/ my bottle of salvation / my gown of glory, hope’s true gage/ and thus I’ll make my pilgrimage. (Sir Walter Raleigh)
In the last 100m of the beach walk I came across this scallop shell. Right at the destination – Waratah Bay township. A perfect symbol to finish this little journey!