I found myself between Cotswold walls today.
I’d walked a mile or two or three, enjoyed the views and the warm caress of the late summer sun. Found a place I knew not before. Peered into old churches ringing with centuries of worship and liturgy and people. Imagined ancestors kneeling with toil worn fingers and rheumaticky knees. Imagined them listening to the chants and the anthems. Imagined them slouching on the ancient pews, kept awake by fear of the wardens’ poking poles.
Imagined their prayers and cares, their dependence on God. And heard their silence.
So I walked in the sun again, followed the lane as it wound through the trees, past the grand Manor House and the small thatched cottage. Smelled the last of the summer red roses, ran my fingers through the rosemary. And found myself between Cotswold walls. Higher than my head, topped with apple trees weighed down with the promise of harvest. The sun unable to compete with the height of the walls; I was shadowed.
Shadowed - and conscious of the heavy, heady silence. Sheltered. Away from reality.
Away from the sunshine. Away from the views I was enjoying. The walls kept pace with the path. Or the path followed the walls.
A narrow road. A dark road. A road of silence. Beyond: sunshine. Views. The sound of a lawnmower being tidy.
But here, for me, for now: Narrow. Dark. Silent.
And it was the parable of the past twenty four months: two years of mourning. The years of narrow and dark and silent. Cut off from the land of the living. From the warmth and the sunshine. From the laughter. From the outward view. Confined to walk this path, hearing no-one, seeing nothing, on and on.
And I knew that One had walked this Way before me. Cut off from the land of living. Confined to silence and darkness. Narrowed. Broken even. For me. For you and for me.
I trudged on. Glimpses of sunshine broke through. Glimpses of a vista, hints of spaces. I came to the chestnut tree and saw the horizon. And my eyes were open and my ears could hear and once again I was in the world around me.
And this is how it is. For Him, the narrow, the dark, the silence of the tomb. And then the bursting forth.
I greet the sunshine. The view. And know that it is His Power at work in me to enable me to burst forth too. Slowly. Carefully. But it’s happening. He’s doing it.
May He do it for you, too.