Sunday, November 22, 2015

The World Outside My Window

Solitary walking opportunities being limited of late by the demands of work, family and a pair of dodgy knees, pulling back the curtains on the first frosty morning of the season, the world outside my window was too much to resist. The early sun was casting long shadows across the fields but was bathing the trees and the distant ridge in a golden glow.

The parish being too big to beat the bounds in a couple of hours, I headed out of Windmill Hill through the hollow by Rocks Farm Shop with the intention of a more modest circular walk. The incline up to Bodle Street Green felt long and laboured at first but the freezing air soon had a restorative effect and, by the time I reached St. John the Evangelist as the dwindling faithful were arriving for the early service, I was well in my stride. This early-Victorian church, fronted by an attractive split-flint gable end wall, was largely re-built after a fire in the 1920s.

After walking through Bodle Street Green, past the pub with the eponymous white horse painted on the roof, I turned left into Chilsham Lane at the Ebenezer Strict Baptist Chapel. If this sounds as though I am making it up, or that I live near Silas Marner, I am not. Such a building exists and, as usual for a Sunday morning, there were a lot of cars parked outside indicating that this faith is popular. These orthodox parishioners are known as Strict and Particular Baptists and are affiliated to the magazine, The Gospel Standard, which has been publishing hyper-Calvinist theology since 1835. Be careful out there.

Chilsham Lane was frozen with run-off from the fields but I managed to negotiate its entire length - past the farms, stables and high-hedged houses - until I came to Stunts Green. Here, I took a quick diversion to my allotment to break the ice on the pond for the wildlife, and the soil with a spade for some leeks. Too cold to do any other work on my plot, I headed down towards Herstmonceux. The pubs and restaurants were all shuttered and the village was quiet save for the sporadic trade at the two rival village shops; I bought a newspaper in one and some milk in the other. By this time, the sun had climbed higher and I felt that my walking worship had paid sufficient thanks for the beauty of the day - and it had been more glorious than any religious service. I arrived back home in time for a late breakfast and to read of the rectitude of dropping bombs on Syria.

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