The eagerly anticipated annual gathering of Via Beata supporters with the opportunity to greet old friends and make some new ones began, as usual, with a shared lunch supplemented with tasty homemade soups.
After a briefing, supporters set out with maps, Via Beata signs and tools to waymark the section between Roudham Heath and Brandon. The last part of the walk, along the Little Ouse to Brandon from Santon Downham, was blocked as the river had overflowed its banks and there was no way through. The team marking that part then headed for Brandon and walked the path back towards Santon Downham. The sky was overcast but the weather couldn’t obscure the pleasure of walking beside the river fringed with willows and reeds and sightings of occasional swans.
In the evening around 30 participants enjoyed a delicious supper. This was followed with Steve Eggleton giving his annual report. What a joy it was to see how many Way Stations are now in place right through to Little Gidding. Some rousing and heartfelt worship, led by the music group, was followed by a reflection on Psalm 40 led by Gordon Harvey. Gordon lives near Lampeter.
On Sunday, seven from Via Beata travelled to Stretham with the plan to pray in the porch of St James where the new Way Station will be. It was raining and the lively and welcoming group, who were preparing for the morning service, swiftly invited them in. Firstly, lots of chat and coffee, then time to pray in a side chapel. They stayed for half the morning service which included a thought provoking talk by Rev Stephen Leake.
They were then sent on their way to Bluntisham where they took part in Café Church in the hall where they were joined by Cathy and Mark Stables. Breakfast was followed by a quiz, some worship, a talk looking at the disciples locked in the Upper Room. A thoughtful presentation and a fresh angle on the familiar story.
It was a long drive to Little Gidding where they arrived just after 2pm.
They were welcomed by the manager Sue Capp and the Rev. Berkeley Zych, one of the trustees. It was still raining as they headed out to the way station.
Steve sat undercover so that he could lead the singing with his guitar.
The way station is designed around the words from Philippians 2: 6-9
After the dedication, a wonderful afternoon tea, with scones, cream and homemade cakes, awaited them before the long drive back to Norfolk.