Reader Writes, October 2016
It's good to take stock of life, and isn't the Walking Festival, just finished, a great opportunity to do just that? Walking and travelling together does so many things. We adopt a measured pace fitted to one another and the landscape uniting us with ancient hunter-gatherer pasts. Apologies if you are laughing, but I think it must be true. We are made for sustained cooperative effort and we evolved to take notice of the prospects of food and danger. And at the end of a day or a longer foray we long to return to the the communal comfort of fire, warmth, stories, food and human intimacy. I also love the way walking these Marches hills is an exploration of the bones of more recent pasts; you find drovers' paths, old pines planted for the shepherds, hollowed ways cut out by pack-horse and carts, hedgerow oaks from once timbered banks. We rejoice again in the wild green earth.
Carl Sagan reminded us that our earth is but a pale blue dot in a vast uninhabitable cosmic arena. Yet we are hardly humbled by this; rather, as he put it, rivers of blood are spilled by emperors fighting to become momentary masters of but tiny fractions of that blue isolated pixel. The sobering reality is that human enterprise and the extraordinary bounty of billions of years of stored up solar energy have changed our planet home for ever. It remains habitable but changed. In this Anthropocene age it is within our power to make it much less habitable, and it is also within our ability to limit these costly changes. The Paris climate change agreements proved that it can be done. But it takes the pooling of human aspiration, the building of a community of nations prepared to put the weakest and the most vulnerable ahead of themselves. Walking and fellowshipping, rejoicing in community, are a metaphor for what we must do globally.
A Christian would have no confidence in either our ability or our will to do this without, above all, walking with God and building spiritual community. That spiritual community, the Church, is the largest and most radical community on earth. The Creator of the universe who gave us this apparently unique blue dot as a home, our fallen Eden, cares deeply about us human creatures and the whole of his stunning works. We are privileged above all other life; rightly perhaps we have been called Homo divinus. And with it comes pressing responsibility. The immortal words of Psalm 8 remind us; 'When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? ....you crowned him with glory and honour.'
So let's walk, and let's walk together, measuring our pace with our companions, rejoicing in each other and cherishing our earth. And day by day we also walk with God, our Creator and our friend.