A younger version of myself grins out of a photo on a screensaver. I’m leaning in an attempt at nonchalance against a cairn of stones. Behind me in the near distance shattered rocks and scarcity of vegetation reveal that we are at some altitude. In the far distance, down below, a lake and a habitation, and further mountains and hills. Other pictures show family members with similar expressions of satisfaction and, possibly, some relief. We’ve made it to the top. It has been a long haul, and we can hunker down now on our sit mats for a few welcome minutes of rest, to pillage our rucksacks for a roll, and coffee. The nip in the wind means that pullovers will need to go back on quite soon. We made an early start this morning and, although the return walk won’t take as long – as it is downhill all the way – nevertheless the distance involved means that we perhaps will only be able to stay at the top for half an hour at most. There’s quite a little crowd now, gathering on the mountain – you could almost be forgiven for calling it “peak time” – and to a man (or woman) they are sitting, eating, drinking, resting, and taking in the view. There is hardly any conversation, just a contented communal silence, mingling a sense of achievement with wonder. Being right at the top the view is a 360 degree option. Whichever way you choose to sit gives a panorama unspoiled. My own favourite direction is out to the west, where you can see the sea in the far distance, and, if you are lucky, the afternoon sun will be reflecting off the water as it heads to the horizon.
The little crowd on the rock-shattered summit starts to break up. A few late starters are still straggling to the top. But most are heading away again, some in families or couples, some walking alone, taking paths leading in almost all directions, heading back to “civilization”, having met with strangers on a mountain, and parted again, saying nothing, but sharing in the wonder of the wild extremity, where only wind and water have any kind of authority and words are rendered unneccessary.
Worship Services for Sunday 26th November
9.30am Holy Communion at St John’s Stoke Row with Canon Kevin Davies
11am Holy Communion at St Peter and Paul, Checkendon with Canon Kevin Davies.
Midweek zoom service: Wednesday Evensong at 5.00pm 410 935 129
To everyone who came along to Checkendon’s working party last Saturday; the weather was less inclement than it first appeared, and much useful was achieved in the churchyard. The interior of the building also received some welcome care and attention. The churchwardens and I offer our deep thanks to you all.
Looking ahead, the Checkendon community coffee and mince pie morning is on Sat Dec 9th, from 10.30am in Checkendon Village Hall, and Carols Round the Well, at Stoke Row, is on Friday Dec 15th, at 6pm. Details of Christmas services are now on AChurchNearYou.org and are also on a dedicated Christmas Services page on the Team Ministry website.
“I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
Canon Kevin Davies