There is much that evokes awe and wonder on Exmoor:  fast-flowing rivers, soaring buzzards, ancient churches, starry skies, proud red deer and powerful seas.  To reach the soul of Exmoor and the beating heart of her beauty, it is important to look to the people (past, present and future) who inhabit and care for this area, to the people who visit and enjoy it and to the love which created it in the first place.   Echoes of all these are to be found in the spectacular and dramatic scenes of Exmoor, but also they are to be found off the beaten track in the ordinary, the unexpected and the unspectacular. And, looking carefully, they all evoke awe and wonder.

I see this post box on a walk close to where I live. On the edge of a wooded valley, surrounded by trees and voracious ivy and close to a road frequented by cyclists, walkers and cars, new life Is being given priority.  In twenty-first century global Britain where news travels across the world in milliseconds, where emails arrive almost before they are sent, letters are displaced and communication takes second place so that a new generation can be delivered; so that a bird can safely give birth to her young in order that they develop the wings to fly into a new future. 

Seeing this post box elicits a smile: it is also both awesome and encouraging to see humanity doing all it can to help creation thrive and flourish.  The owner of this post box gives life a chance.  But life, with all its joys, can be a struggle and new birth is traumatic: whether the off-spring will survive and fly depends on the mystery of life and on parents caring for their young.  The owner of the box, moved by the struggle for life, has taken steps to create an environment where the birds can get on with their lives. The owner has played a part in ensuring that creation continues and that Exmoor will be enriched. This act of kindness and generosity will bring life and joy to far more than the temporary inhabitants of this post box.

Julian of Norwich, who lived in the fourteenth century, was a Christian mystic and the first woman to write a book in English. She lived in turbulent times, including through another devastating pandemic, the Black Death, which killed a third of the population of Europe. Julian also faced suffering herself. Yet, despite all of this she wrote that creation is an act of love and it is love which lies at the very heart of it. It is there for all to enjoy and be thankful. Looking across Exmoor and looking at this post box helps me believe that.

Contemplating Exmoor – Gallery

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  1. Yes, love is at the heart of it all. I am reading a new book by a hospice doctor, who took her dying father to the Albert Hall to hear Elgar’s Second Symphony, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, his most favourite piece. “Dad no longer looked frail, but radiant” she writes. Just little acts of love can transform agony into ecstasy, albeit sometimes just temporarily, but none the less important for that.

  2. Thanks for this touching and timely reminder of the rewards of courtesy towards all our neighbours. “Timely” because any time now the first prospecting swallow will arrive with nesting designs on the cross-beams of the ancient farm cart-house that we now call a garage. Instead of resenting the prospect of increasing gifts of guano across the lumber in the loft, I shall now be persuaded with markedly less reluctance to spread an old tarpaulin over my useless loft-lumbering treasures! Thank you, Bishop Brian, for another opportunity not missed.

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