The sun shines, the sky is blue; it’s a glorious day for a walk along the coast.
Our path lies along the top of an earth bank. To one side the North Sea; to the other, the coast road. Between these two, sea and shore, salt and fresh water marsh, tidal mudflats and grazing land. This is a boundary space where sea, sky and land all meet. Here, where human access is limited, birds thrive. For a few moments we stop, and watch spell-bound as a Marsh Harrier expertly rides the air currents in search of lunch.
The tide is out, but at high-water, the shallow mound of earth on which we stand is all that lies between fresh water and salt. Here is the divide and we were betwixt and between. Today, this is a peaceful place. However, it doesn’t take much imagination to picture it in a storm.
Storm or calm, this boundary is seldom still. With each tide, mud banks move and recast the deep water channels. Pastureland ahead of us was, in medieval times, a busy port for ships trading across the North Sea. This coast-line is shaped and reshaped by man and nature. The remains of past human endeavour stand as a reminder of where the true power lies; yet our being here today is a testimony to human persistence and ingenuity.
Our walk is done and we are home. Like the tide, the pandemic has ebbed, yet contemplating the many pressures bearing in on daily life or watching anxiously as events unfold in and around Ukraine; I reflect that we sit on another dividing line. We live in a time of often uncomfortable and stormy, change; life’s boundaries shifting and moving. Yet, as I look back to our coastal walk, as I see again that harrier hovering; I see something else, something deeper. We enjoyed our break, the peace and beauty of our coastal walks. This beauty and peace is God’s gift. Yet the peaceful beauty we enjoyed is born as much in storm as in gentle breeze. With this I recall Jesus words: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33)
Revd. Philip Payne
The Notice Sheet for 20th March can be found here.