Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, Grief, Healing, Holy Spirit, Medieval Fiction, New Author, pilgrimage, Seasons of life, The Word of God

A Heart Set on Pilgrimage

image of a path across a headland, with the island of Bardsey on the horizon

As I write this, I really should be doing something else. I am supposed to be editing my manuscript for my second full length novel, The Pilgrim. The editing has been taking up most of my time and energy for the last few days. I know it has to be done, but I am finding it both exciting and exhausting. It is with mixed feelings that I read and re-read, and correct the words that I have written. And always the questions… is it going to be good enough? Are people actually going to want to read this?

Heart pilgrimage

At the end of each chapter, as I did in my first book, I have inserted a verse or two of scripture. In The Pilgrim these are taken from the Psalms. Each one is chosen for how it speaks into what is happening in the life of the central character, Brother Hywel, as he walks his own spiritual journey. But many of them have personal meaning to me too, like this one:

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Psalm 84: 5-7 NKJV

I have chosen to write about a real pilgrimage in the book, hence the title. But it isn’t just the physical path of pilgrimage that is Hywel’s journey to grace. It is also the inclination of his heart, to truly seek after God. 

Image of a valley path with the text of Psalm 84 :5

Tears bringing life

On my own journey I have been through some dark valley times, when it really feels like the Valley of Baca (‘Baca’ means ‘weeping’). I have struggled to understand why, but it isn’t always for me to understand. I only have to keep my heart set on Him. My ‘pilgrimage’ is to step by step walk the path that leads me closer to His heart. And it isn’t always easy to stay on that path, especially when blinded by tears.

But what if the very tears that I weep actually help to water the dry ground around me and turn it into springs of life? My strength to keep going actually comes from Him, if I ask for it! And He will increase that strength as I keep walking, make me even more resilient and fruitful. Nothing is wasted in Him. I might walk through the Valley of Weeping, but my very presence turns it into a place of blessing!

Image of the front cover of The Pilgrim. The title of The Pilgrim is in black font against a white background that looks like manuscript paper. The 'P ' is illuminated. Beneath this is a brightly coloured stained glass image of a group of pilgrims.

The Pilgrim: a pool of blessing

My tears have fed into the story I have written in The Pilgrim. My prayer is that the book becomes a pool of blessing for many. I am blown away that God has chosen to use the things that I have gone through, in my own pilgrimage journey, to create books that might just do that. I’ll remember that as I continue the sometimes painful editing process!

At least the book already has the most beautiful of cover designs. I pray that the words inside will be just as beautiful.

(The Pilgrim is due to be published in July 2022, but you can pre-order your copy now, by commenting on this blog post)


Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Books, Christian Writer, Faith, Medieval Fiction, New Author, pilgrimage

THE PILGRIM WAY

I love that I live in an area where there is a rich history of centuries of Christianity, and that is traversed by ancient paths well-trod by many a pilgrim. When I started writing my second novel, I knew it would be about Hywel, and that it would include monks and abbeys, but I also wanted him to take a physical journey. And what better way than to make it a pilgrimage? A recognisable one. And I had the perfect fit, right on my doorstep –  the North Wales Pilgrim route from Holywell to Bardsey.

It is a route still walked by pilgrims and walkers today, although it perhaps does not have the prestige it once had. In medieval times it was said that if you completed the pilgrimage to Bardsey three times, it was the equivalent of a pilgrimage to Rome, in terms of the favour and indulgences it could earn you. Today it is just a beautifully scenic route, following the seacoast and traversing mountains, with ancient holy sites and churches along it’s route. If those are things that interest you.

I have never done the full route, and I would love to, if ever I am able to. But there are pilgrim sites that I have visited many times and are dear to me. They also feature in Hywel’s story as significant places, where he encounters God in different ways.

CLYNNOG FAWR

Large ornate stone built church with castellation sand large pillion windows.
St Beuno’s Church, Clynnog Fawr

This little village with a large church sits on the north coast of the Lleyn Peninsula. It was a busy place in the height of the pilgrimage era, hosting pilgrims and providing for their needs. A must stop for the medieval pilgrim, not least for St Bueno’s healing well nearby. The church that stands there now would not have been there when Brother Hywel arrived. But there was a church, and in that church Hywel experiences something of heaven in the simple worship of it’s community.

PISTYLL

Small stone church nestled on a hillside with the sea visible beyond
Pistyll Church

All that remains at Pistyll is the tiny pilgrim church, perched as it is on the cliff top. This is probably the very church that Hywel would have stepped into. Before the simple altar in this one-roomed stone building Hywel truly understands what mercy and grace mean to him personally. I love Pistyll, its peace and beauty. It stays with you, as it will in Hywel’s heart.

UWCHMYNYDD

It is no lie to say that this is my favourite place in the whole world. To stand on this cliff top, overlooking the island of Bardsey and the wide endless ocean beyond, really feels like you are standing on the edge of the world. And that if you reach up your hands you could touch heaven itself. It is a thin place. Yes the views are magnificent and the sea air fresh and clean, but it is more than that. I have never felt closer to the Creator in any other place I have been. I think it might be partly due to the thousands of faithful saints that have stood on that hill, overjoyed at last to see the island that was their destination. Full of praise to God for getting them there. Hywel feels it too, and experiences a moment of sheer exuberant joy on that mountain top.

Grassy clifftop with path, looking over the sea towards a small island. Wide expanse of clouds and skies with hazy light.

I would love to tell you more about Hywel’s pilgrimage and what he sees and experiences on the way, but for that you will have to read the book! The Pilgrim is due to be published July 2022 but you can pre-order a copy from me now  https://joymargetts.com/contact/

And if you would like a sneak preview of The Pilgrim then do subscribe to my newsletter and in a few days time you will receive a post with an extract from the book, and a little bit of information about my personal connection with Hywel’s story. You can sign up here     https://joymargetts.com/

Thank you for being a part of my writing journey, which has become such a huge part of my own life pilgrimage.

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here www.joymargetts.com