Rectory notes July 2020 – ‘Rock and wind’
For the first time in an age, I stepped with delight out of the car last week onto Dartmoor soil. In each place we’ve lived in Devon, I have found a ‘spiritual landscape home’ – here it’s up at Hembury Fort. But Dartmoor remains my home-of-homes.
The springy turf sunk familiarly under my boots, and the granite stones in the path were like old friends, as I walked unhurriedly between tors. Just five minutes drive beyond the ice-creams of Haytor Rocks, and the space was my own. A lightness of spirit lifted me. I felt I was unfurling from the crampedness of lockdown.
I know and love these rocks. Haytor lay just 10 minutes from our Bovey Tracey home when I was a curate. Occasionally I would cycle up – which took a little longer! But it was worth every pedal-stroke for the achievement – and The Best Downhill in Devon going home! Ten years older, I’d now find it a tougher climb…
These rocks are, to me, the heart of Devon. Dartmoor’s granite intrusion appears on geology maps of Devon as a delightful, huge red blob. Wherever we’ve moved, I’d go to a high place and lo, there was Dartmoor in sight again. The Moor is mysterious when shrouded in cloud, it smiles in the sun. It’s solid, it’s safe, and it’s always there.
Standing on the Moor feels for me like standing on the solidity of God. God as Rock.
Yet there is more. Up on Dartmoor you catch the wind – there’s almost always wind up there! Standing aloft last week on one of the granite outcrops, breathing in the fresh moorland air blowing through me, round me, over me – coming from wherever it did and heading wherever it was going – it was like a reviving embrace from Life’s breath. God as Wind – God as Spirit. I unfurled further.
I dropped off Dartmoor in the car down the familiar long descent. Back to valleys, the Otter valley and home. But we carry these moments with us, moments which remind us of a reality that is often hard to see in the toil of the everyday, especially during these coronavirus days. God as Rock, God as Wind. May he be these to us through these times.
Rev David Carrington
Team Vicar of Escot, Feniton and Payhembury