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Expedition seven: Wilderness wanderings

Isolated tree in dry landscape, Ethiopia

Route plan

Read Mark 1:12-13.

Ascent reflection

The 70 Munros challenge marking Christian Aid's 70th anniversary has now passed the 40 Munros mark.

The most intensive week of the whole challenge, 11 Munros in six days, was completed at the end of June.

This multi-day expedition included three days of walking in an area known as 'The Great Wilderness', in the Fisherfield area of northwest Scotland.

A ribbon of wilderness runs through the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Many significant characters of the Bible spent time being formed and transformed in the desert.

The 40 years of desert wanderings of the children of Israel are echoed in the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness.

In this passage from Mark, 'Jesus offers us the clearest vision we have of a new humanity in a new relationship with earth.

'The Gospels reveal one who is at peace with the animals in the wilderness, before whom the storms are stilled, and in whom justice comes as the poor inherit the earth.

'This is what it could be like to live a human life in all its fullness. Here is a vision of human life restored and one filled with hope, inspiration and possibility.' (1)

Sense of place

It is in the wilderness that the children of Israel, the prophets, and even Jesus get a sense of their true selves and their place in the world.

The desert fathers sought solitude in the wilderness so they might become more attuned to the 'caress of God' - as described in Laudato Si', the recent encyclical on climate change from Pope Francis:

'The entire material universe speaks of God's love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God...

'Anyone who has grown up in the hills or used to sit by the spring to drink, or played outdoors in the neighbourhood square; going back to these places is a chance to recover something of their true selves.'

  • More than a walk - more like a retreat from modern life.'

Walking and wild camping in The Great Wilderness gave us a sense of our connection with nature, and with each other.

One of the participants described the expedition as 'much more than a walk - it was like a retreat from emails, mobile phones and the rest of modern life into a beautiful wilderness.

'It made me think a lot about people who have to struggle to find water, or to find a place to rest...'

Sense of connection

The sense of connection with nature led us to consider our love and concern for others, and in particular made us mindful of communities across the world who are learning to adapt to the extremes of a changing climate.

It is not possible for all of us to go into the literal wilderness places of the world, but wherever we can contemplate creation, may we each be reminded of our connection to the world and to each other, and may we each be refreshed and sustained in the struggle for justice.

Summit prayer

God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!

From A Christian prayer in union with creation in Laudato Si'

Descent actions

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(1) Susan Durber, Song of the Prophets: a global theology of climate change, p20.

Mountaintop experiences

See all the steps of our online pilgrimage so far.

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Read about the challenge

We climbed 70 Munros between February and October 2015.


70 Munros

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