Brambling: the art of discovering stories through the slow art of walking, observing and conversation. It is recognising beauty in the most insignificant – a post box, a view through a window into someone’s life, a gravestone in a churchyard. It is allowing discovery to happen as you take irregular paths, letting go of control and being open to chance.
Yesterday was a day of brambling as we continued day two of our walk to Jerusalem. We didn’t take the specified route but instead were given the opportunity to wander through meadowed laneways, through small villages and fields. It was commented at one time that we may end up in Spain instead of Jerusalem with the rambling route we were taking.
From the start of the trip we looked for a lane way that had no longer been kept and maintained. People stopped using this access point as we looked for a way to walk along the Thames River. It was covered in an impenetrable mass of thorny brambles which were in flower. They provided a perfect refuge and habitat for migratory bramblings and other small birds.
The Art of Brambling
Throughout the day walking with fellow pilgrims is an opportunity to get to know them and discover bits of knowledge along the way.
There is so much learning to be had simply by listening and observing and can bring a sense of joy and wonder to make connections along the way.
Pathways to Communication
I was taking a photograph of a Royal Mail post box along an industrial area along the Thames River for instance. Arthur, a fellow pilgrim, described how the letters ‘VR’ stood for Victoria Regina, and ‘ER’ would be Elizabeth Regina, the present Queen, and so on. Little bits of information create connections. A simple photograph comes alive with history. I am not so good with names so now it is easy to now remember Arthur’s name because I have a connection to a conversation.
A similar incident happened as I photographed another postbox in a country village which had an image of a horn. Rachel described how the horse-drawn coaches would come past the village and blow their post horn to alert villagers they had mail.
Postal services through the written word connect people and maintain relationships and continuity where physical distance may be a barrier. These stories create connections to the past and present and create richness and diversity.
Arthur also saw me take a photograph of a bollard. He explained that many bollards used to be made from cannon barrels. I found this fascinating.
An object used to stop others through violence was repurposed into another object that hindered the path of others.
I love that sense of serendipity that comes with pilgrimage. In the middle of the day we made it to the 13th century Stone Church St Mary the Virgin just after the mass was over. We were warmly invited for tea and biscuits and it was an opportunity to connect with the parishioners and clergy. I listened to stories from the parish priest and his trips to Australia and how so far away from home he would meet people that lived down the road from him and were connected in some way.
Churches have traditionally been a place that brought community together. A hub for connection both to the past and present and a welcome place for weary pilgrims.
Accessing Creativity Through Curiosity & Enquiry
Having a sense of child-like curiosity and making connections with seemingly unrelated ideas are the secrets to creativity. Accessing one’s creativity is simply being open to everything you come across and allowing yourself to be immersed in chance.
Right of Way
The idea of Right of Way was introduced to me as we walked along by Vanessa. I had commented how ‘walkable’ our journey has been. How we were able to walk along narrow alleyways and weed strewn paths where I wouldn’t have considered walking. How, paths connected us with the past and to other places.
We all want to find the shortest and best route to get somewhere. Often the best route may lead through a farmer’s field or between houses or private property. Over sometimes centuries, these common routes became Right of Way. They were to be kept and maintained for public access.
The Fudamental Basic Right To Freedom of Movement
As we walk to Jerusalem I am intrigued and fascinated by the concept of Right of Way, and how poignant this is as we stand in solidarity with the Palestinians, whom many are denied rights of passage into Israel and between Palestinian Territories.
Tearing Down Brambles
This creates disconnection. Families and their stories and verbal history are lost, without the hope of being nurtured and enriched by connection.
Just like we were stopped on our way by thorny brambles at the start of our journey, Palestinians deal with barbed wire and a long concrete wall.
Creative Solutions Through Connection, Communication and Understanding
But I think that there are always ways around as we walk for peace to the Holy Land. The first step I believe is to allow Right of Way to Palestinians so that they are able to enrich their connections with each other and everyone else who calls the Holy Land home.
Connection ensures continuity of history and culture. It opens the door to conversations, new ideas, new possibilities, new paradigms based on understanding.
Communication & Understanding
It is through awareness that we can create new connections based on love not fear. Having conversations creates trust and empathy. There is great beauty that can be found through rambling. Allowing conversations to flourish can allow people to find a way to walk together in the same direction.
There is so much to discover about each other and the world when we are open to seeing beauty. It opens up creativity and understanding and dispels ignorance and fear.
As we walked yesterday I saw myself looking into people’s windows in a housing estate and seeing the quirky decorations that adorned their houses, such as painted clowns on a rooftop. As I looked into their windows I was peering into a world I knew nothing about. I longed to be able to make connections between those objects in the windows and to meet these people and understand their stories.
Dream & Make Believe
We passed a blue door on our ramblings. It had a heart scratched into what once a glass window. Then directly across the road there was a ladder that lead into a small enclosed cubby hole surrounded by bushes. No doubt this was a child’s secret cubby house to dream and make believe.
Maybe it is time for us to make believe. After all, isn’t that what hope is? We take an idea, a wish, and we make it come true. Access lies in our openness to our innate creativity.
Allow yourself Right of Way to dream of a better world, to be a child, to indulge your curiosity, to see beauty through understanding, to have conversations, to walk together, to bramble.