Take Your Time

My calendar yesterday said “There is more to life when you stop and notice.”

A long time ago now I walked the Cotswold Way as part of an organised group. It was good fun. The weather was very kind to us and it didn’t rain once.

Fortunately we didn’t have to carry all our gear with us as we stayed in the same place each night and a coach picked us up each evening and dropped us back at the same spot the following morning. I wasn’t a bird watcher at the time but I was a keen landscape photographer and that led to problems.

Most of the group were big, fit men who wanted to walk. For them it was head down and let’s get going. They didn’t want to stop for anything; their aim, to get back to the accommodation as quickly as possible and sit in the bar and chat. There were others who were not so fit and so walked slower but still with the destination in mind and then there were those who like me wanted to look at the countryside we were walking through.

What I wanted to do was to look around and take photographs, take my time and enjoy the walk, and that is what I did! Invariably, I’d arrive back to the coach last to find the fit, tough men impatiently standing in the sun, foot tapping, checking their watches and moaning.

Did it have any effect on me? Not really. I actually felt very sorry for these men. They didn’t seem happy with their day’s activity. It was all about being first back, getting a good time; they might as well have walked through the streets of whichever city they had come from.

I was with two work colleagues and we marvelled at a cricket, the smell of gorse, the call of a cuckoo, brown trout in a stream; we played Poo Sticks from an old rickety wooden bridge and sat on moss-covered rocks for lunch.

That group of men missed out on so much. There is more to life when you stop and notice.

Have you ever stopped in the car park of Liverpool Cathedral and looked up? There are peregrines up there, nesting on a ledge on the roof. Many people walk past without knowing that the fastest bird in the world is hunting above their heads.

Stop, take time to look up and down and around you.

During this time of self-isolation and lock-down many people are reconnecting with nature and there is much benefit for mental health in doing that. I’ve been listening to Emma Mitchell, the author of a book called “The Wild Remedy. How Nature Mends Us”. In the past Emma has struggled with mental health. During one period of illness she discovered that if she spent time outside, in nature, her mood lifted and so she started to study why this could be. I can’t tell you that yet but I have just ordered her book.

There is great benefit to reconnecting with and spending time with creation but there is even more benefit in reconnecting with and spending time with the creator.

Psalm 8:1, 3-4
“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens… When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”


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