A couple of years ago I felt that Wirral was so heavily influenced by Liverpool that it had lost some of its connection to Wales. It was somehow being overshadowed by the city. All things seemed to tie the peninsula to the city rather than any identity of its own or connection into Wales. So whilst the prophetic words related to Wild fire coming from Wales I felt it would need an easy path across Wirral if it was to impact, something of a joining of the nations, a knitting together of North Wales to Wirral via the Dee estuary.
So Phil and I took a wander from Wirral into Wales one day. A 13 mile trek winding our way over fields and through flooded footpaths into Wales. We then organised a crisscross walk along the border, gathering a bunch of folk from different spheres and generations to amble left and right over the border between the two nations like a thread sewing the two together. It seemed significant to have a group wandering together, talking, eating and enjoying the possibility of making a difference.
Phil and I believed there was another walk due that took in more of the Wirral and in January Phil saw a fiery lasso shape and knew that was the shape of the walk. We chose a weekend that seemed the most convenient to most people and set about gathering maps, planning the route, the teams and eating times, (obviously the most important part).
A friend asked if the walk was linked to a group of people who had also chosen the same weekend to organise a more detailed border prayer walk, incorporating 24/7 prayer rooms along the whole border for two weeks starting at the top and relaying down the border, North to South. Two groups of youngsters to climb the two highest mountains in the two nations and they were kicking it off with an event on the Friday night that we were gathering the team together. It seemed God had a specific plan in mind for this particular weekend in May in 2011 to call something into being. I emailed the border prayer group just to connect with them and was encouraged by what they were doing and their enthusiasm for what we were doing as that they had not looked at the North part of the country but had covered the south with a walk across the Severn bridge, so the encouragement was mutual as they discovered that we covered the top. One of those very rare moments when you know you are in the right place doing the right thing and you haven’t just lost the plot.
It was amazing the team that gathered for the weekend. Nigel and Jean from the South of England and with Welsh blood flowing through their veins, the Luff clan from North Wales carrying the Kiss, Dyfed from Anglesey the home of royalty, Derek from London married to Joy from Wirral pulling the North and South together, Andy from Liverpool married to Sajmira from Albania pulling the nations together, Phil from Chester married to Mags the Celt, and our children one born on Wirral, one in the city, Alison from both the City and the Wirral full of promise for what can be, Jonathan from Wirral-the indigenous, Anne-Marie from the city and carrying the catholic heritage of the mystics. It was good to have the generations walking together, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, grandparents and grandchildren. A small part of what they carried individually and tiny no doubt in comparison to what God saw when he looked at us together walking out a fiery lasso.
We gathered on the Friday night, ate together and drove over to West Kirby to see our starting point for Saturday morning. Following a very rainy day the view was clear and whilst cold and windy the lighthouse could be seen sticking up on the other side of the estuary. We stayed for a moment to enjoy the view and the expectation of the adventure of the next two days.
Saturday morning we gathered to lush up on Jesus, to walk and wander the outline set and to release blessing, joy and togetherness onto the land. The maps had been walked on, laid on and kissed. We were on a mission from God (lol), to pull Wirral back into place, to pull off that which had covered heaven’s design. We were and are part of a chain reaction!
As we walked along the Welsh side of the estuary I felt a sense that as we walked we were releasing the land from that which had pressed it down. A picture of geysers popping with every footstep. Weni played her Celtic drum and we ambled along in the sunshine. The afternoon walk was somewhat less straightforward, a later start, a rejigging of the plans, the weather turned damp, a forgotten car and a hill to climb! It is interesting that this was the sticky point of the walk for me whilst Phil and Nigel walked the crossing of the border with no let or hindrance, noting it is an open border.
Sunday’s walk incorporated most of Wirral walking along the coastal path facing the Irish Sea, the Mersey-side Docklands where Nigel had worked in his past, Port Sunlight a village built by Lord Lever for his employees and strange in its design and feel, past the cancer hospital, into Thornton Hough, a very posh Cheshire village, and onto the end point at Parkgate, home of the ice-cream and view across the Dee estuary to Wales. We gathered in the morning at Joy and Derek’s house to focus our eyes on Jesus and I was struck by the comparison of trying to be quiet and controlled due to uncompromising neighbours and walking to pull the Wirral out from the overshadowing of a controlling city – the micro and the macro.
The walk was marked by wild wind and rain. On the coast facing the Irish Sea, Andy fully embraced the wild as he stood on the rocks and threw his arms out in abandonment to the wind and rain and Sajmira tried to fly in her waterproof poncho. We walked and talked about the shape of church, the solid and sure wild fire from the Welsh speaking community and our hopes and frustrations. We finished the walk very damp, tired and with a sense that maybe the deeper magic had been at work as we wandered.