First (brilliant) days in Cornwall

Featured image: Ancient cross on Church Lane, between Carbis Bay and Lelant.

Cogitation 8 Saturday 24 February 2018   It was a pleasant surprise to find our Christmas letter published in the New Contact magazine of St Anta and All Saints Church, Carbis Bay, Cornwall, UK.

We wrote: “For seven winter/spring seasons we’ve hopped across the pond to Cornwall in south west England. The shrill call of footpaths and people there continue to draw us. Stay #8 is in place for 2018.”

We’ve been here for a week and a half now. During this time we’ve met people at the First Sunday of Lent worship services, on the weekly walk of the West Cornwall Preservation Society, over a couple of meals, and on Friday at a funeral. The Carbis Bay Beach, though, on Friday was nearly empty–weather windy and cold into next week, still so invigorating.

Seven steps of a good walk

Step 7: Pause to watch farm life. In several places we heard roosters and chickens. These two, though, remained mute. They might have gotten wind of the KFC delivery glitch that left the some 700 fast food restaurants in the UK without chicken, 400 for more than a few days.

Walk for the joy and inspiration of blooms

‘Should we give nature one half of the planet?’

Peril 1: The “Should we. . . .” is the title of a Special Report in The Observer (18.02.18). The article, by Robin McKie, states that many wildlife populations are in steep decline. “One radical proposal is for a full 50% of the Earth to be made a nature preserve,” McKie wrote.

The threat is real, even if the solutions appear nearly intractable. There’s a conference in London this week to address such issues on the theme,”Safeguarding Space for Nature and Securing Our Future.”

There’s so much to be said on safeguarding the natural environment and its inhabitants. At the St Ives Public Library I just discovered the writings of Richard Mabey, who has seen English nature writing make a comeback. I’m reading a collection of his essays, A BRUSH WITH NATURE: 25 years of personal reflections on nature (Chivers, 2010). He’s written 18 books on the relationship of humans and what has been called “more than the human world,” our wild or natural world neighbours. Unless we come to terms with how we perceive the outside world and how we relate to it, we put ourselves and our planet at peril.

I agree. Additionally, for me Creation includes all that God brought into being and with which God would have us live in harmony. That’s a topic beyond my ken this week.

“Spring Beauties” at the home of Terry and Ann Trevorrow in Lelant.

Peril 2: Humans face a second potential peril: artificial intelligence (AI). The stakes are whether digital intelligence will benefit humanity or bring the end of humankind. Are the stakes really that high? Nobody knows for sure what the future holds, meaning concerted attention is needed right now. More power to the deliberators, such as those meeting in London this week.

As I’ve said before, I’m reserving extensive comment on the most recent human and natural disasters. Such news floods electronic and print media. I grieve the unnecessary loss of life through warring factions in Syria and elsewhere. I grieve the loss of young lives through the latest school shooting in Florida. I grieve for refugees. I grieve when political and special interests leaders reveal that they are not in control of the rudder. I grieve the sharp decline in some bird and animal species.

Peril 3: Climate change.

Signs of hope

I am heartened by the concerted initiative of youth and adults in calling for a real end to gun violence across the USA–against the weak and erroneous arguments of vested interests. I am delighted by the passionate athletic achievements of the Winter Olympics. I am delighted by sings of goodness in people all around and in the purpose and beauty of seasons. I see hope in people seeking soul in the heart of all our beings and doings.

I am chuffed by the welcome we feel here at church and elsewhere (for instance, the waitress at Halsetown Inn, out of the blue, we not knowing she remembered us, said, “You’ve been away for a while.”)

On Wednesday, my Halsetown Inn lunch was of lamb, rice, and coconut shavings, with a mussel stew starter. Marty had an Aubergine main course and a super tasty goujon (fish fingers) starter. It was our main meal for midweek.

May we find soul with people near and far, solace in nature, and satisfaction in seeking the ways of God.

In memory and thanksgiving for the life of Liz Laramy

On 23 February we, with at least 200 others, attended the funeral of Ruth Elizabeth Laramy at St Anta Church. She died in hospice care, just days short of her 59th birthday.

Earth and heaven came together in the service and gathering afterwards at the Halsetown Inn  (a favourite of Liz as it is of us). Solemnity, tears, smiles, silence and laughter infused the music, prayers, Scripture readings, remembrances, homily, Commendation and Farewell, The Blessing, and Departing hymn, sung  by The St Ives Bay Community Choir.

We sang “Be still for the presence of the Lord,” “As the deer pants,” Love divine all loves excelling,” and joined The St Ives Bay Community Choir in the final chorus of “The White Rose,” a lovely Cornish song.

Liz was the kind of person whom in an instant you saw as warm, kind, understanding. With time you came to see her wit, humour, artistic-dramatic side, her deep love of nature as well as people. Liz served for 20 years as parish secretary and Server (assisting in the opening and closing procession and serving the Eucharist).

Her husband Mike wrote: “Liz and I started dating in the summer of 1983, after she offered to take me sightseeing as I had not had the chance to see much of Cornwall whilst studying at the Camborne School of Mines. We spent a very happy summer driving around Cornwall in her red Triumph Spitfire, Arthur. I very soon fell in love with her and through her fell in love with Cornwall.”

Their daughter, Emily, was married last September at St. Anta. Emily and Neil live near London.

Previously at St Anta we’ve been part of christenings, baptisms, a wedding, installation of a new vicar, church feast days, Lent and Holy Week and Easter Week celebrations, and now a funeral. May Liz rest in peace and rise in glory.

 Concluding reflection from Christmas

In our Christmas letter we reflected on the year past where “Plants sprouted and bore fruit. Insects fulfilled their given purpose. Birds tended their young. Four-footed mammals kept up with the birds. Reptiles replicated wonders on land and fishes in the waters. Fungi and lichen did their nearly unnoticed awesome parasitic best.”

Further: “Humans, some humans, on the other hand, would solve the world’s ills by asking the snowstorm to stop the lava’s flow or nuclear weapons to quell the quake of words. Such machinations made for an unusually frightful year.”

Near the end of the letter we wrote, “As humans, for all our faults and limitations, we do have the benefit of humility, proper pride, courage, faith, gratitude, welcoming of each other and the stranger, thoughtfulness, community, peace in its many forms, God’s grace, and love and guidance to venture on. . . . The Creator has cast out all fear. . . . Peace, joy and love.”

View north from the footpath overlooking Porthkidney Sands and the Atlantic Ocean. Who would not want to think and act restoratively for the interdependent relationship between nature and culture? Yes, who, would not want to participate in caring for God’s wild and wonderful world? Assuredly, God’s creation so far beyond our seeing is being healed. From “Be still for the presence of the Lord”: Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place; / He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister his grace,” Amen and amen.

Pilgrim by day, Homebody by evening.  Reposing soul by night. Grateful by every account. Mindful that my posts should be shorter. Best!

-John

From Carbis Bay looking toward St Ives jutting out into the Atlantic in the distance, a wonderful two-mile walk on the South West Coast Path, or a 10-minute branch line train ride from St Erth.

6 thoughts on “First (brilliant) days in Cornwall

  1. I’m glad somewhere in the world flowers are blooming and I enjoy seeing pictures of such. The white poinsettia is still blooming in the living room but I think I will welcome some tulips into the house today after my shopping. Oh to be near the ocean…….. would make walking the dog so much more enjoyable. Lamb with coconut, never thought of that. Look forward to more pictures of flowers and the foot paths next week.

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    1. The weather people say many areas of the country will be covered in snow this week. Whether that happens in Cornwall is not impossible, but it would be rare. May the hearty snowdrops and crocuses just clap their hands-or wave their petals.

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    1. Whether the walk this week is a go or not depends on the “promised” unseasonal cold blast and wind from Siberia. We’ve walked over frozen ground before, so we’ll just see what happens. Evensong at Truro Monday night. If it’s too cold to venture far we’ll just put the kettle on.

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    1. Glorious indeed. Hope the Artic blast this week blows over our southwest-most tip of the UK. One thing on my to-do list is to get a supply of sunscreen. At the same time, I’m glad we brought our alpaca socks. So good to be here.

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