Reflecting and Doing
Go on a walk with a camera. It does not have to be far and it does not have to be in the countryside. It could just be in your garden or along your road.
Notice what is around you. Take photos, and listen for what God might be saying.
Something a little different this week. I am writing this while on a working retreat at Launde Abbey, Leicestershire, and early this morning, I went on a walk. The things that I noticed as I walked seemed remarkably relevant to my life. Was this God speaking to me, or was this my mind unwinding and sorting out the tangled strands? Either. Both. It doesn’t matter how we frame it, the result is the same.
I took photos. They were taken with my phone, so they’re not very good. But at least you know this is a real story.
I was interested to find the ideas from my walk repeated in not just one the readings for today, but three – neither going forward not going back seem good options, and then another option appears, not seen before.
Coincidence? Hmmmn. Come on a walk with me.
I woke early this morning and as I look out of the window of my attic room at Launde Abbey, I see beyond the stone mock-battlements to the parkland stretching up and out in every direction. Hovering over the single-track road that brought me here, and will take me away, is a silver mist, catching the rising sun at its edges.
I dress hurriedly and grab a coat from the car to walk in the magical scene before it disappears with the day. It is as chill as I had expected, but also as beautiful. The serenity is so solid I could pick it up and keep it in my pocket.
I walk through long, wet grass up to the road, a strip of outside world running through my oasis.
Looking one way, I can see the road disappearing into the mist. Looking the other way, the same. That seems to be a picture of my life at the moment. I can’t see where I’m going. Neither this way nor that look promising, and no other direction, either.
Then I notice, somewhat foolishly, another road behind me. I say foolishly, because it is the way to the house, so of course I know about it. I just had not seen it when looking at the mist-covered options.
I take another photo. The sun is rising over the house, ready to burn away the mist.
That encourages me. Perhaps there are ways forward that I have not noticed, hidden in plain sight. It would not be the first time that I’ve be extraordinarily slow on the up-take.
I start taking photos as I walk the road.
Click, walk, click, walk, click …
Nothing much seems to change.
Click. Just keep walking.
Click. Now I am in the mist.
Click. Everything is greyed and duller than it should be, and slightly out of focus.
Click. Keep walking.
The road ahead bends away and … falls down an infinite abyss as far as I know.
Click. Now I am in the part that was hidden when I started. It is clearing. There are more roads. And a sign post. I had not seen that when I started. I step off the road. Click.
There are four roads from here.
There is the way I have just come from.
There is the ‘obvious’ way, the continuation of the way I have come, which bends away and disappears.
There is a blocked road, long abandoned, strewn with stones and moss.
And there is another way. It leads away from the parkland, over a cattle grid and into wide open fields beyond the hollow that shelters, or perhaps hides, the house.
I cross the cattle grid and walk along this road a short distance, then look back the way I have come. From this angle, it looks different – unattractive.
I can see the back of a broken sign, crash barriers, fencing, barbed wire and an awkward gate. Beyond that, the mist still lies in the park.
Ahead looks so much more inviting.
There is no mist here. The sun has been warming the earth for longer, and the open aspect has not held the damp air. There is a wide vista that one would never imagine from the house, sloping gently down over newly-harvested fields. It looks like opportunity and hope.
If I had stayed where I was, I would never have found the signpost. Are there any changes of direction along your path, do you think?
Exodus 14:19-31 Common English Bible
God’s messenger, who had been in front of Israel’s camp, moved and went behind them. The column of cloud moved from the front and took its place behind them. It stood between Egypt’s camp and Israel’s camp. The cloud remained there, and when darkness fell it lit up the night. They didn’t come near each other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord pushed the sea back by a strong east wind all night, turning the sea into dry land. The waters were split into two. The Israelites walked into the sea on dry ground. The waters formed a wall for them on their right hand and on their left. The Egyptians chased them and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and cavalry. As morning approached, the Lord looked down on the Egyptian camp from the column of lightning and cloud and threw the Egyptian camp into a panic. The Lord jammed their chariot wheels so that they wouldn’t turn easily. The Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites, because the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt!”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the water comes back and covers the Egyptians, their chariots, and their cavalry.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. At daybreak, the sea returned to its normal depth. The Egyptians were driving toward it, and the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the cavalry, Pharaoh’s entire army that had followed them into the sea. Not one of them remained. The Israelites, however, walked on dry ground through the sea. The waters formed a wall for them on their right hand and on their left.
The Lord rescued Israel from the Egyptians that day. Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the amazing power of the Lord against the Egyptians. The people were in awe of the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21 Common English Bible
I will sing to the Lord, for an overflowing victory!
Horse and rider he threw into the sea!
The Lord is my strength and my power;
he has become my salvation.
This is my God, whom I will praise,
the God of my ancestors, whom I will acclaim.
The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he hurled into the sea;
his elite captains were sunk in the Reed Sea.
The deep sea covered them;
they sank into the deep waters like a stone.
Your strong hand, Lord, is dominant in power;
your strong hand, Lord, shatters the enemy!
With your great surge you overthrow your opponents;
you send out your hot anger; it burns them up like straw.
With the breath of your nostrils the waters swelled up,
the floods surged up in a great wave;
the deep waters foamed in the depths of the sea.
The enemy said, “I’ll pursue, I’ll overtake,
I’ll divide the spoils of war.
I’ll be overfilled with them.
I’ll draw my sword; my hand will destroy them.”
You blew with your wind; the sea covered over them.
They sank like lead in the towering waters.
Who is like you among the gods, Lord?
Who is like you, foremost in holiness,
worthy of highest praise, doing awesome deeds?
Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand. All the women followed her playing tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang the refrain back to them:
Sing to the Lord, for an overflowing victory!
Horse and rider he threw into the sea!
Psalm 114 Common English Bible
When Israel came out of Egypt—
when the house of Jacob came out
from a people who spoke a different language—
Judah was God’s sanctuary;
Israel was God’s territory.
The sea saw it happen and ran away;
the Jordan River retreated!
The mountains leaped away like rams;
the hills leaped away like lambs!
Sea, why did you run away?
Jordan, why did you retreat?
Mountains, why did you leap away like rams?
Hills, why did you leap away like lambs?
Earth: Tremble before the Lord!
Tremble before the God of Jacob,
the one who turned that rock into a pool of water,
that flint stone into a spring of water!
Common English Bible
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