Sunday 10 November 2013

Exploring Cornwall: Ludgvan to Trencrom (and back!)

Well after yesterday's reflections I got myself out of bed early (ish!) while the sun was shining (ish!) and went off for a loooong walk.  I'd seen signs for the St Michael's Way so decided so walk part of that, starting from Ludgvan, a village near to where we live.  I had a vague route in mind but wasn't sure how long it would take, but I did end up reaching the point I'd wanted to, which is Trencrom Hill - an ancient hill fort with views of both the north and south coast.

Here's some photos and ponderings from along the way...

Until I saw this little sign I didn't realise that St Michael's Way is one of pilgrim routes that lead to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  There are pilgrim paths all over Europe that are part of this network, so although I didn't pass any people this morning, I enjoyed wondering about who else had trodden the same paths.  Centuries ago, Celtic missionaries who sailed over from Island would have cut across from Lelant/Hayle to Marazion on foot to avoid sailing round Land's End.  Many places in the area are named after these 'saints' who brought Christianity to the land.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.

Berries: a dash of vibrancy amongst the browns and greens, a sign of hope, tinged with pain

See how the wild flowers grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

View of St Michael's mount from the top of Trencrom Hill
The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it...
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart...

Sometimes it takes a while to find the right path, and there are dead-ends, and turning back, and even fallen trees blocking the way, but keep searching and you'll get there eventually!


I'll be honest, I was quite tired and hungry by the time I reached the top of Trencrom, and then I still had to get back to the car again.  I could see Ludgvan church far off in the distance and wanted to take a different route as where I walked had been quite up and down and very muddy.  I stuck mainly to tiny back roads, going past big houses hidden away and abandoned farms.  I had to walk very close to a huge herd of cows who mooed very angrily at me (thank God for the electric bit of string that separated us!) and before long my feet were properly squelching in my hole-y trainers.  In typical Katrina fasion I also fell over, which didn't really hurt but kind of jarred my leg and back.

So what I'm trying to say is by the time I was walking up the road back to Ludgvan, after 3.5 hours walking, I was more than a little keen to get home.  And then I thought about people who don't have a home to go back to, like refugees fleeing war or natural disasters.  I thought about people who have to walk for miles each day with no meal to look forward to at the end of it.  I thought about the pilgrim missionaries from hundreds of years ago who were probably also often tired and hungry and wet and cold whilst on their journeys and yet they pressed on.

Although I may be struggling with feeling at home down here in the South West, I am so grateful that I have a house to live in.  Grateful for leftover stew from last night and grateful for a husband welcoming me back. Grateful for hot water for a shower.  Grateful that I have more than one pair of shoes.  Grateful to have the freedom and time to get out and walk the land and take photos and enjoy a peaceful Sunday morning exploring a beautiful little corner of the world.

And just to finish on a light note, I also saw and chatted to some pretty comedy animals on the way.  Like these guys... :-)

Saturday 9 November 2013

Winter coming and nature speaking


I haven't been writing as much as I would like to, partly due to a dodgy internet connection which means we have to take turns in our house using it - if it's working. AND somehow I am back to having three-and-a-bit jobs.  Part of the reason for taking on a new job (note-taking for people in higher education with disabilities) is because the hours of cleaning and waitress-ing have reduced significantly due to the change of season.

We are entering our first winter in the South West, and already see that Cornwall is a very different place out of the summer months.  I can't say I'm looking forward to winter.  I never do.  I'm not one of those people who enjoy the cold, and getting all wrapped up.  I'd rather it was sunny and warm all year round.  I would not go so far as to say that I suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), but I can't deny the negative effect that the darkening evenings and drop in temperature and general greyness has on me.

As with quite a few things in life at the moment that have the potential to get me down in the dumps, I am trying to see winter from another perspective.  This week I've been thinking a lot about how nature speaks to us about God, and I don't mean just the obvious things like sunsets and stars.  I recently listened to a Nomad Podcast in which they interviewed a man called Bruce Stanley about 'Forest Church'.  The first time I heard of 'forest church' was at Greenbelt in the summer, but I must admit I dismissed it as toooo far out there and didn't go to any of their activities or 'rituals'.  But actually, I was judging something without learning about it and I really enjoyed listening to the interview in which Bruce talks about connecting with God through nature.  But more than that he reminded the listeners how Jesus so often referred to the natural world around him in his teaching and parables ... "look at the birds of the air... the wild flowers... the sparrows... the farmer sowing seed..." etc.  Clearly there's lessons to be learned if we just pay a bit more attention.

The day after listening to the podcast I happened to read chapter from my new book of thoughts from Rubem Alves*, which is right along the same lines:

"Have you ever seen any kind of anxiety walking through the countryside?  Or any wrath sailing side by side with the clouds?  Or any fear chirping like the birds? Never. These things do not exist in the countryside. They only exist in one's head. Thus, if my thoughts were identical to what I see, hear, smell and feel, walking through the countryside, my inner world would be like the outer world, and my mind would have the quiet simplicity of nature" (p.91)

I do love walking and find being out on my own by the sea or on a hill often far easier places to talk to God than in a church building.  But I think there's still a lot more to take in than I realise and I am challenged to take my time while outdoors to notice things, and perhaps to go with others to share the experience.

I'll be honest though, it is easier said than done.  I went for a walk the other evening mainly to clear my head after being on the computer all day.  Although we live in the middle of the countryside, going for walks from the house is actually quite difficult as there aren't many footpaths nearby due to a big quarry behind the house.  So really the choices are which narrow, winding country road to walk down - with no pavements and the risk of being run over by speeding cars!  The only view I had for most of the way was grey road, grey cloudy sky with the threat of rain, and high hedges that began to look menacing as daylight faded.  Not exactly inspiring.  More than anything it heightened the sense of loneliness that has been hovering over our house lately.  I talked to God as I walked but I can't say I felt very 'connected' to anything.  At the same time it was kind of refreshing not caring about getting wet as the rain started, and the wind did blow away a few cobwebs.

Then the flowers of the grass spoke up: The winter comes and with it the cold and the drought. It will look as if I am dead. But my seeds will have already been scattered. The spring will return, and with it the joy of children and games... (Rubem Alves/Alberto Caeiro)

"unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24)

Winter and death and the ends of things are necessary for new life to grow.  The changing of seasons is not something to be feared.  There is beauty if we look hard enough. And when spring comes, we'll appreciate it all the more!

one thing i do love about autumn,,, fireworks night!

*Transparencies of Eternity, 2010. Convivium Press

Saturday 2 November 2013

Sparrow song

His eye is on the sparrow
does that mean that no sparrows will fall?
I don't think so
winter whispers violently through crisping leaves
branches break
black hunters threaten
times to hide
times to take cover

His eye is on the sparrow, little one
And your song is in his ears
He sends the morning sun to caress your feathered head
and grows shining berries for your delight
Like the keenest of birdwatchers
He can tell you apart from your sisters and brothers
recognises your call without hesitation

His eye is upon you, little one
His eyes
He watches you
Watches over you
His hands are safer than the trees
He won't trap you
or stop you from flying
He will help you be strong
So don't let the winter
silence your song

for Phoebe, from Katrina, November 2013