We have arrived in a market town in West Yorkshire: Lancashire bounds its western boundary and the River Calder and Rochdale Canal sweep through the town centre. The hills, mainly flowing east-west, provide a majestic backdrop.
The roads linking us to Halifax through Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd are fairly busy, mainly due to the road improvements which are ongoing. The bus network is superb, and the rail network feels equally good (the vibrations can just be felt as each train passes through the tunnel behind the house). The Market in the town is bustling, vibrant in fact, full of customers, fresh goods and friendly traders.
As you depart ‘up the hill’, not one for the faint hearted at first, we peak to overlook such delights of this wonderful countryside. Even without the rain, this landscape still appears luscious and inviting. Cyclists frequent the roads, some on their own, some in peloton (is that the right noun?) formation.
Upon venturing out of the county to wander around Hollingworth Lake we spot the busy M62 leaping across the divide, this arterial route linking west and east, cuts through naked beauty but its sound is imperceptible.
On a busy Saturday, the motorway is busy but underneath the countryside is still tranquil. And what of us?
It may be our day off, and do we fill it with “jobs“, busyness which is a substitute for our Monday to Friday activity? These hills of Yorkshire, and I’ll include Lancashire here as they are shown immediately above, provide a reminder that we are not here to be busy all of the time. We are called to be aware of the rhythm of the day and week, to give ourselves time to stop and reflect. I heard yesterday of a company in London who have given their staff a couple of hours ‘off’ every week or so to investigate something which is not directly linked to their current project. It is an invitation to look in a different direction, gather a new perspective, a chance to refresh their mindset. Do we give ourselves that opportunity?
Prayer can offer that opportunity to stop and reflect. Not always is prayer a long litany of words and responses, but it can be a time when we stop and ‘be’.
‘We are human beings not human doings’ is a phrase that often comes to mind.
The prayer we used at the Methodist Diaconal Conference (or Convocation) this year was:
Be still and know that I am God,
Be still and know that I am,
Be still and know,
If prayer is not something you would consider, why not just stop and look at what nature offers, or the wonders of society. I find to look at the landscape: to watch, even over a short period of time, how it changes colour or seemingly its texture; or people: to see their smiles, their joys; their concerns on their faces, not in judgement, but as a time to reflect upon what I could do, can do – both give that time to pause, albeit briefly, and intentionally open ourselves up. It can break down barriers we ourselves can erect, not wishing to ponder, as that may offer a vulnerability, a chink in our armour, when really we might consider that time of pausing actually an offer of great benefit.
I have found the people here to be so open, so friendly, telling you their story, sharing their lives: it beckons me to want to be a part of, know more of and love this community.