On 5 February I drove up from Bedfordshire to Herefordshire and unexpectedly arrived at Croft Castle with about an hour of daylight left and so walked up onto Croft Ambrey. I wrote the following in my sketchpad and then didn't find the space to write it up until over a week later with a few embellishments:
The wind is warm, such a contrast to the bitterness of December's snow and ice, and strong too. Several trees had recently been uprooted in nearby Fishpool Valley. The path before me is sheltered from the roar of the windswept hillside and the waves within the tall conifers around me. This is a cathedral, a cathedral of trees. Tall, straight and skyward - towering above me like the pillars and walls of a large open place of worship. The path is the nave and beside me are the pews of rusting bracken and tangled dormant brambles. I come across a volume of space where the trees open outwards and paths cross. It holds my presence and awaits my prayers. Slowly I walk, mindful and aware of the imminent gathering darkness but also the loneliness of my presence. The path is worn by many, but only my pilgrimage is now present. I welcome my self to this place and ask to receive something. Ahead of me is the high altar of the hill top and here I lie in a sheltered place and look out over the valley below. The greyness of the clouds and the winter evening is punctuated buy the brightness of distant lights. I find peace in the wind here and return to the real me, with a voice and a song of worship - worship to the land and the spirit of the landscape that energises me.
I was drumming in a yurt with friends last night and thinking about voices: the voice of the wind in the trees above the yurt that I could watch swaying though the skylight; the voice of the logs burning in the fire; the voices of people sharing; the voices of our drums; the voice of the space itself; and the voice of silence.
Here on the hillside I realise that my pilgrimage is about finding a voice. Finding a voice with which I can communicate with spirit, a voice for me to stand up and be something or say something. I pray for a voice - a voice that can communicate and that can inspire. I think that a lot of my anxiety comes from a fear of what people will think of me and I feel that my spirituality must make me perfect -and it doesn't. Yet nature produces all - all is unique and has value. I feel I have no voice, no significant tale to tell, a voice that is becoming harder to find as I get older - and energy is drained away by work, and hours in front of a computer screen.
I pray for a voice. A voice that will reflect freedom. A voice that will call out into darkness like the owls I can hear in the trees. The landscape has a strong voice today. It has called me here today. The energy of the wind brings conversation, whispers, arguments and laughter. I pray I might be likewise inspired.