Monday 22nd February 2021

Day 6 Enjoy What’s On Your Doorstep

Norwegian Polar explorer and author, Erling Kagge, said that Mother Earth is 4.54 billion years old, so it seems arrogant when we don’t listen to what she has to say, and simply place our trust in human invention. I agree, and think that our beautiful world does have much to say to us about so many different things. So how do we listen to what she has to say? Well, I suppose the most obvious thing is to spend time with her, get out doors and walk, or sit and stare, meander, look closely at nature, enjoy it. While I always enjoy getting out of London and spending time in the countryside, you actually do not have to go far to enjoy the natural world. London itself, so I once read, has 3000 parks, around 8 million trees, and 35,000 acres of green space open to the public. So we do not have to travel far to find a little patch of nature to enjoy. I have read books and articles by people who have explored London’s rivers and streams, and have even walked the A-Z (can’t say I’m tempted!) or have visited landmarks. Each one have said how astonished they are of the amount of green space there is in our city and of the thrill of coming across a new patch of it. Here in Grove Park we have so much on our doorstep. A number of lovely parks within easy reach, a nature reserve, the woods, and walks along the Green Chain walk. We really have no excuse to not spend a bit of time enjoying, contemplating, and learning to listen to Mother Nature.
I remember a few years ago walking in the woods, and most afternoons encountering one particular person wandering around them, or sitting on a tree stump reading a book. We began to say “hello” to each other and one day we got into conversation. He told me that he had suffered from depression for years, and had spent much of his time sat indoors. Then one day someone took him for a walk into the woods, which he had never been in before, and he loved it. He had gone back there each day for the last six months and his mood had changed dramatically. “Something is lifted when I come here” he told me. He was learning how to listen to the wisdom of Mother Earth, beginning to wake up to what she had to say, and he liked what he heard. Let’s make the most of what is on our doorstep.

Mark 1

Early in the morning, before the day began,
Jesus rose and went out to a quiet place,
and there he prayed.

For the last 27 years I have been walking most days in Elmstead woods. At first with my terrier, Tyke, and over the last 12 years with my faithful Collie, Noah. The woods, have become a true friend in that time, I have loved them in all seasons. It is in the early morning, before the day begins, that I enjoy them the most. Often still quite dark in the winter months and full of light in the summer. The spring and autumn are particular favourite times with the blue bells, anemones, and the like marking the end of winter; and the falling leaves and changing colours marking the end of summer. It is amazing how many people I speak to have lived around here all their lives and never ventured into the woods. You do not even have to walk there (though you would be missing out), you can drive up New Street Hill and park at the entrance. I love Yorkshire, The Peak District, Kent, and so many other beautiful places in this glorious country of ours, but these woods are on the doorstep, and are accessible every day. Wander up there mid to late April when the blue bells are in full bloom, you will not regret it.

Invaded by the World of the Sacred by Thomas Berry

When we see a flower
A butterfly, a tree;
when we feel the evening breeze
flow over us;
or wade into a stream of clear water –
our natural response is immediate,
intuitive, transforming, ecstatic.
Everywhere we find ourselves invaded
by the world of the sacred.