I went on a walk down a path I’ve not explored yesterday. It was the sort of walk that doesn’t feel right to say I enjoyed, even though I did very much. There just seemed to be a lot more to it than that. This post is a ramble in itself, so I have drawn no conclusions, but if that doesn’t bother you then read on!
I wrote these lines as I wandered along:
But my delight
Lies in gold-dappled bark
And dusky birdsong;
Smelling of honest red dirt.
Spilled pools of bluebells
O’er and under living, breathing green,
And rippled by the sighing, sightless wind.
I’ve never been much good at writing poetry, and when I do they tend to sound very similar. I write a lot about colours, and I overuse the word ‘gold’ more than any poet that I’ve ever read. But there’s still something satisfying about trying to use words to capture something in the moment, even though when I read them back afterwards I know that they don’t come close to the reality.
Bluebells are up there as one of my favourite sorts of flower. I love that they are so English and in some ways so delicate, but that they are also so vivid and striking when they band together. I have so many memories attached to bluebell woods, and they’re traditionally meant to be places of mystery and fairy gatherings. I always feel a good amount of nostalgia and enchanted-ness when I encounter bluebells, and the feeling is stronger the more bluebells there are!
My reasons for taking a walk last night weren’t elaborate: it was a warm, sunny evening, I had about an hour before my dinner would be ready, and it felt like it had been a while since I went on a walk by myself. Things have been very hectic in the past few weeks, and most evenings I’ve come back to my room and zoned out rather than doing anything constructive.*
Yesterday though, I didn’t leave the Chapel straight after finishing my last task. I went to the Chapel and walked the labyrinth that is currently on the floor; I helped draw it at the beginning of this week as a part of the university’s Exam Plus activities for de-stressing during exam season.
I’d never walked this kind of labyrinth before (I actually didn’t know what they were at all before the chaplains began planning to have one in the Chapel), but apparently they’ve been used for thousands of years for prayer and meditation. According to this site, they used to be a feature in some medieval cathedrals, to symbolise ‘the hard and winding road to God, a mystical ascension to salvation and enlightenment, or even a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for those who could not make the actual journey.’
Unlike a maze, which has dead-ends and tricks, a labyrinth has only one route, which you follow to the centre. There are three stages: releasing your cares and distractions as you open your heart and mind to God; receiving what it is He wants you to hear from Him at the centre; and uniting yourself with Him on the journey outwards, as you go and face the world again.
I didn’t have any sort of striking mystical experience in the labyrinth; I was a bit tired and my mind kept straying from thing to thing. But I did have a sense of God walking with me, and of just how wonderful that is – that God walks with us through life.
Anyway, back to my outdoors ramble! So, I set out, cheerful and fairly peaceful but with no profound thoughts. My aim was to follow the patches of bluebells and have a good old wander in the sunshine and shade. I brought my camera (which, unbeknownst to me when I set out, was low on battery) and a notebook, but was mostly content to stroll along unimpeded. My heart felt light and very ready to delight at the beauty of my surroundings, leading me to scribble down the lines towards the beginning of this post.
I took a turning down a path I’d not explore before, and along the way found a couple of dens made from branches.
(Being me, I decided to take full advantage of the situation and explore said dens):
So yes, I was having a lovely time, listening to the birdsong, deciding on whimsy which turns to choose when the path became forked. I decided I’d rather stay under the trees rather than venture out into more open landscape, even though it would be sunnier in the latter. There was just something so deeply peaceful and lovely about the light through leaves, and choirs of birds. Even though I was walking along tire tracks, and of course there had been the dens, it felt like I’d been the first person to walk that way.
After a little while, the path dipped downwards. I followed it, and then –
– suddenly, I was surrounded. Completely immersed in a bluebell ocean.
It was so unexpected, so overwhelming that I actually laughed aloud! It just felt like such a gift- such a beautiful, ridiculous, extravagant, perfect gift. I felt utterly engulfed by Love.
My camera died after this photo, but although I shook my head at my own ineptitude when it comes to camera-charging, part of me didn’t mind at all. After all, no photos would be able to do it justice; that sudden rush of joy at the sight of blue-carpeted woodland.**
*Like updating this blog, ahem. I’m actually midway through writing a couple of posts though, so hopefully I’ll turn this around soon. 🙂
**I think it was the closest I’ve ever felt to the scene in ‘A Room With A View’ when Lucy stumbles across a spread of violets. Although there was no George about to kiss me – probably a good thing.