Featured image: Tide’s in between St Michael’s Mount and Marazion, where we visited Monday.
Cornwall Cogitation 10/188 Saturday 9 March 2019 March winds barreled in from the sea, whizzing past us on footpaths with glee, tireless.
Monday alternated with high winds, sun, showers, cloud and hail as temperatures fell back to normal from February highs.
We enjoyed having Steve and Karen Moshier-Shenk visit for five days. They live in Harrisonburg, Virginia and came to Cornwall after a brief visit to London.
On Monday we walked the last part of St Michael’s Way from Ludgvan to Marazion, crossing at low tide on the causeway to St Michael’s Mount. We had a guided visit of the castle/church and were among the last 21 visitors to leave the island on an amphibious vehicle (before winds stopped further crossings).
Shrove Tuesday included a pasty, pancakes and quiz evening at St Anta Church. Our team of four did a credible job on the quiz, though not in the top three. Ash Wednesday included Evensong at Truro Cathedral, complete with ash marking on the forehead and celebration of the Eucharist.
On Thursday, in sunshine and strong wind, we walked from Hell’s Mouth to Hayle, from where we caught the train home and then walked to nearby La Casita for dinner, a day’s total of 11 miles.
Hop on for a photographic tour of Thursday’s walk
Views along the coast path. Gorse, wild ponies, seals deep down on their beach (signs reminding people to speak quietly so as not to disturb them), Godrevy Lighthouse, lunch at Godrevy Cafe, winding footpath through the dunes, train back to Carbis Bay and walk to dinner made for a full, tiring, and sterling day.
Back in Hayle, big player in the Industrial Revolution. Hayle had two big industrial firms in its heyday. Worth an online search. The town is making slow strides on developing the waterfront along Hayle estuary. The area includes the Hayle Estuary Nature Reserve, a prime area for migrating birds.
La Casita in Carbis Bay. Dinner out before Steve and Karen left next day for London and home. Paella, salad and spaghetti, delicious fare to celebrate an outstanding week.
Cross of St Piran awarded to Doreen Sullivan
Citation: “Doreen has been a key member of the bell ringing team at St Anta for over twenty years . . . Doreen has worked with young people and children, organizing and running holiday clubs. She was a leading light in the Pathfinders group, initiated the first Messy Church, is now a team leader, and helps with Open the Book at St Uny Church of England School. She helped to raise money for restoration of the church clock, and for many years she and her husband have been responsible for cleaning St Anta church, considering it a privilege to serve God in this way.”
Liminal. The word liminal carries the sense of convergence between material and spiritual worlds, the threshold of two sides of a boundary. The term can describe a sensation too faint to be experienced, such as otherworldly connecting with this-worldly. I felt that sense this week in the visit to the church in the St Michael’s Mount castle, in Evensong at Truro Cathedral, and in talking to Doreen Sullivan who has worked tirelessly within and beyond St Anta and other churches, in extended family and in the wider community. In each of these settings I sensed again how humans truly have and do mediate heaven and earth.
Lent. I don’t remember that my church made much of Lent when I was growing up. Easter was the focus just as was the celebration of Christmas without much made of Advent.
In contrast to the communal or corporate religious engagement with Christmas and Easter, solitary, personal, individual self-examination is what the period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Saturday is all about in the Christian community.
Sister Wendy Beckett adds depth to understanding Lent. I found out about Sister Wendy in a feature, “What Sister Wendy taught me about Lenten prayer,” in The Times (2 March), by “Monsignor Roderick Strange.
Sister Wendy was a teacher and later a hermit, author and art critic. She died 26 December 2018, age 88. There’s good information about her life online.
“The essential act of prayer is to stand unprotected before God,” Sister Wendy wrote. “He will take possession of us.” Roderick Strange writes, “Our God is a consuming fire, revealing our limitations and making our darkness shrivel.”
He adds, “And then she asks another question: what do you really want when we pray? ‘Do you want to be possessed by God?’ And then she adds with delightful lightness of touch: ‘Or to put the matter more honestly, do you want to want it?’ Faced especially with with that wry further question, how many of us may find ourselves answering that we don’t want it actually, although we wish we did. ‘Then,’ she tells us, ‘you have it.'”
We may back away, Strange says, but the echo of Sister’s “I wish that I did,” “reveals a deeper yearning. Desire is key.”
Sister Wendy: “When you set yourself down to pray, what do you want of it? If you want God to take possession of you, then you are praying. That is all praying is . . . There are no secrets, no shortcuts, no methods. Prayer is the utterly ruthless test of our sincerity. It is the one place in all the world where there is nowhere to hide. This is its utter bliss–and its torment.”
Strange: ” As Sister Wendy also says, ‘Prayer is the last thing we should feel discouraged about.’ So, ‘if you desire to stand surrendered before God, then you are standing there; it needs absolutely nothing else.'”
My lesson for Lent.
Monsignor Strange is a professor of theology at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.
The healing sound of the skylark
One more note from The Times, 2 March: In Nature Notebook, Jonathan Tulloch wrote about hearing skylarks on a walk in February where he “seemed to be walking under a stream of bubbling, sparkling effervescence.”
Japanese poet Basho wrote that a day is not long enough for a skylark’s song, Tulloch said, adding, “Most skylark songs last about two minutes, but they can sing for half an hour at a time, after which they parachute to earth before soon rising back up to begin again.”
For Basho, Tulloch wrote, “skylarks symbolised detachment from the world. Yet although they fly so high above us, they’re intensely rooted to their locale . . . Indeed, skylarks are so embedded in a particular place that they even sing in dialects; neighbours sharing phrasing and sounds not heard elsewhere.”
Silence, sound, thoughts, quiet, emptiness, fullness–may the stuff of life flow in and around you.