Saturday, 9 February 2013

Mountain top experiences

I suppose a mountain's always a good place to see new things.

From the top of a decent sized hill or mountain you can see miles. Even here in Husborne Crawley, getting to the high ground is a new experience. Most of the local hills are wooded, but you get a decent view in two directions from the churchyard, as you can see from the picture at the top of this page.

The view looking south-ish, down School Lane, takes us over the brook, past the White Horse (soon to be renamed the Findus Lasagne) and down to the imposing red-brick wall and luxuriant aboreal growth of the Abbey. Turning 90° to the left we see the flatter lands running out over open fields towards the motorway, and the distribution park at Marston Gate. It's an area of remarkably few houses - Husborne is, like Hardy's Mellstock, a village of scattered hamlets, albeit with much better transport links.
Looking East

 Up where the air is clear, uninterrupted even tomorrow by nearby noise - the church is shut for the month - you find yourself reflecting. Even in this piece of landscape, you are vanishingly small. The yew in the churchyard was probably standing when Richard III was first buried in that car park - and will still be here long after I am an archdruidical cinder further down the slope of the churchyard. The Abbey has seen Dukes and Marquises come and go, Duchesses and Marchionesses each in their turn do the "Downtown Abbey" act on the staff, feed the tigers, and then pass into the gray void for which all are destined. The churchyard already holds numerous of the parsons who, down the centuries, have had the peasantry bowing, nodding or cursing according to ecclesiastical and social preference as they pass up the aisle. And, even now it is merged with Aspley Guise, it will no doubt hold more in the future.

 The Church itself - shining with the green interlaced in its sandstone as it does - gorgeous on a sunny day - was new once. It has seen a first construction - right on top of the hill, in the best practice of ley theogeography - probably wooden, and then in this beautiful greensand. It has known reordering, extension - as each generation has rejoiced in the new thing they have done, before joining their forebears in the churchyard. Even the sandstone was new once - pressed from the bed of a primeval sea. And of course, one day not one of those glorious, ancient, sandy blocks will stand on another.
It's greener in real life
Time falls away slowly, like sand trickling from the church-hatch wall to the ground. The sun rises and sets, and little seems to have changed. But as days lengthen to seasons, and those to years, and years to ages - one day the church-hatch wall has melted, McArthur-Park-like, in the rain. Shame, when it took so long to make it. But when the whole world is scheduled to melt in the warm embrace of an expanding sun, what is a woman, a building a landscape or even silicon oxide to worry about? Though I take comfort in this - that there is One who counts every grain of silica in this landscape, and will not let one be lost.
Very small things that are each counted
 Ah me, I really must stop reading Ecclesiastes in the morning.


  1. Ah, you're another one who indulges themselves with "Reflections for Daily Prayer", are you? Depressing, isn't it? Never mind, we're finished with Ecclesiastes after today; there's Jeremiah to look forward to on Monday. "Aint no Mountain High Enough..." and all that...

  2. You feel free. I'm off to read some Martin Amis to cheer myself up.


Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl