A covenant for pilgrims

Cranfield Church And Holy Well

Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland

I would like an covenant in which

  • the grace of God is acknowledged and valued in friend and alien alike

  • with a presumption of hospitality as Christ offers himself to all,

  • which recognises that all are blessed with gifts of the Spirit to be given away,

  • and all are wounded and in need of healing,

  • by which unquestioning care is offered to any who are in need,

  • there is justice for those who suffer

  • and hope for those who are strong.

In (slightly more) substance:

  • a meeting point, a place for conversation, a network

  • where 'membership' is free and open to any who wish to participate: individuals, congregations, dioceses, provinces

  • where every member contributes of their strengths and gifts and offers their difference and uniqueness

  • where every member may receive as they need: money, prayer, people, skills, knowledge, challenge, hope

  • where no-one has power over any other.

This is covenant as a well fed by the springs of scripture, tradition, God's compassion and what is of God in humanity. Those who wish to drink from this well are welcome. It is made freely available to those who are in pilgrimage whatever the direction of their journey. It is for those travelling with God in search of God, by the light of Christ and with the prompting of the Spirit. When others stumble across it who would not recognise this description of themselves they too are welcome.

This covenant will be as successful as the nourishment it offers. When no-one comes to drink it will fall into ruin. But it will make no demands on people, neither will it bind them by rules, or subordinate some people to others, or stop people arguing.

So it seemed to me serendipitous to find the picture above. It comes with this explanation:
On the shores of Lough Neagh at Churchtown Point lie the ruins of a 13th century Irish Church and St Olcan's Holy Shrine. Within a few yards east of the church is a holy well, the source of spring water and amber coloured crystals. Pilgrimages were made to Cranfield annually on any three consecutive days between May Eve and 29 June.

Pilgrims who visited collected seven ordinary stones to count 'the rounds'. They recited prayers and walked barefoot seven times round the church, dropping one stone at the door each time. This was repeated seven times around the well. When all the rounds were completed the pilgrim bathed in water from the well.

Here (see also here, and here.) Perhaps it is no accident that the websites I find first are tourism based, not church sites.


  1. This pilgrim ready stands to join such a Holy and Useful Covenant.

  2. aghaveagh, welcome.

    To be honest I was expecting that, if there was any response at all, it would be that this covenant for pilgrims is impractical, full of holes, no more than a pious dream.

    So, I thought, how should I respond to your affirmation?

    And I came up with two questions for you:

    Where you are, what more will you give?
    What barriers will you work to reduce?

    Of course these are impertinent questions and I should address them to me, rather than to you, but I decided I would ask them anyway.

    More seriously: this is an impractical covenant (at any level) and the question that needs to be addressed is why?