Friday, March 12, 2010


We have been in Cumbria in the Lake District for 4 days now and I really have to 'hand' it to the weather. It has been unseasonably warm and sunny and so perfect for hiking along the scenic trails that lead up and down the hills and around the lakes that it may not leave us opportunity to justify visiting any indoor 'places of interest' at all. Even if there were no dry stone walls crisscrossing the countryside, this area of Britain remains a superbly beautiful place combining spectacular scenery, Victorian gardens, rugged slate stone buildings, and bridges .

The dry stone walls just add another dimension which turns everything into a fairy tale. It is almost impossible to take it all in. The miles and miles of walls that can be seen in every direction leaves one breathless, even for those who find that walking up and down the steep slopes, doesn't.

Can hands be breathless? Can the 'thinking hand' take it all in? Not without 'letting it out' too. Perhaps with pen in hand someone will attempt to describe it afresh, just as Wordsworth did while he lived here in Grassmere. Perhaps other hands will try to paint the tarns and fells in water colours. Musicians will finger the notes of new compositions that reinterpret the same recurring theme, just as Vaughn William's Fantasia borrowed from Thomas Tallis's pastoral inspiration and released the beauty of the English countryside in yet another form.

But for some 'taking it in' will require the help of other hands - hands that we have know and have trusted most of our lives - hands that we still care about. The hands of others hold many memories for us. They remind us of all those times of holding one another up, or helping each other over stiles and across becs or up some slippery rocky path. And this looming landscape of clinging walls and prying ghylls stretching upwards into the fells is surely the place for walking hand-in-hand. Here there are winding paths where friends and couples have walked for years. Here hands have grown old together. I sense that great handfuls of blessing have been lavishly heaped upon the outstretched arms of this place and upon those who still come here to take it all in.

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