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Steve Bell takes Providence on pilgrimage at Guest Lectures

On November 21st as part of Providence’s Annual Guest Lecture Series, Steve Bell an award winning Manitoba singer, and philanthropist, invited students, faculty and other guests to join him on a pilgrimage mapping out the church calendar. Influenced by the likes of Malcolm Guite, a Cambridge poet and professor, Bell reminded us that pilgrims are not tourists out to escape the mundane, rather they attend to life with an intentionality that is unhurried, expectant and watchful.

In a unique style of lecture, story-telling and of course song, Steve Bell unfurled the expanse of the calendar pilgrimage as it zig zags its way through Christmastide, Eastertide and Ordinarytide – three distinct seasons or movements of time that are recycled every year and in his judgment pinnacle in Trinity Sunday. It is from here the pilgrim can experience the “divine relationality” of God and see from whence they have journeyed and imagine the way forward with God.

For the many of us more accustomed to evangelical traditions that have historically avoided such pilgrimages, as perhaps outdated forms of traditionalism, surprisingly by his attention to the church calendar Bell soon had our imaginations “Keening for the Dawn” of a new day where we too can “Break the too familiar word, hearing strains we’ve never heard”

Given the immanence of Advent, Bell in particular attended to its integral place in calendar year. We were reminded Advent is about waiting and longing. It is also an opportunity to detach from those things that have become inordinate or out of order in our lives before we celebrate the Christmas gift of God’s Son. In the end, Bell suggested the ancient church tradition of Advent may well be the key to “open the darkness to the light” and redeem the Christmas season.

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