Wednesday, 7 March 2012
Soldiers of Christ on manoeuvres
I went for a walk on Denton Moor above Ilkley the other day. It was the first time that I had walked there since a fateful November afternoon more than a decade ago. On that occasion, I was leading a group of thirty teenagers from three parishes at the beginning of a Confirmation retreat at Myddelton Grange. My risk assessment had consisted of a general reflection that I had enjoyed doing the walk once before and I imagined that they would too. Plus I took some plasters. Note: I am ashamed of this and I am far more responsible now. Suffice it to say that I missed a stile. As the light drained out of the sky we went further and further on to the moor and further and further away from our destination. I couldn't find a way of crossing over the barbed wire fence or the streams. "Are we lost, Father?" "Lost!" We trudged on. "Mum, Father's got us lost," said one girl into a large mobile phone. We approached a farm. I explained where we were heading to the farmer. He guffawed, in front of all the children. I felt terribly alone. We made it to a small road some way from the Grange just as night fell. "This is great Father, it's just like being on manoeuvres in the army," said one of the boys. And I led my column into the light and the warmth of the Lodge where we had an excellent 24-hour retreat as they prepared to become soldiers of Christ, ready to face every eventuality.