Saturday, 11 August 2007

Wandering in the Yorkshire Dales.

Limestone cliffs near Malham.

Malham Tarn, on the top of the world. What you cannot see are the midges!

The view from Hetton.

The beginning.

Being overtaken by a fast moving sheep on the inside lane of the path.

Bolton Abbey.

So, a week in the Yorkshire Dales and a week walking in the most beautiful countryside. It was a perfect week for it, warm yet slightly breezy and the words of John Castillo, the 'bard of the Dales' kept coming into my head...

A farmer who fancied he well understood,

How to manage his work, when the season was good,

He strew'd on his grain, neither wasteful nor thin,

But neglected just then for to harrow it in:

His servants were after that business to see,

But servants, alas! were as careless as he;—

While them and their horses did slumber and feed,

The birds came by hundreds and pick'd up the seed.

I tremble for Preachers on 't reckoning day,

Who give them their Sermons and send them away;

When they see the great Word is dividing between,

They should try to get at them, and know what they mean!

Though some with such liberties might be offended,

There's others, no doubt, would be highly befriended;

The flesh is so subject to cleave to the dust,

There's but few that are fit with that treasure to trust.

Or if they'r fatigued through the toil of the day,

To give us their sanction will go a long way;

To just start our meeting is all we desire,

And set us a working, then they may retire.

On our feeble efforts and council they'll trample,

If Preacher's won't linger and set the example:

From gentleman dishes, so rich, and so rare,

It's not likely they'll stoop to our humble fare.

Dark death's and hard hearers would soon be more rare,

If sermons were shorter and mixed up with prayer:

For sinners in general, whose claims are compelling,

Know what they'r in need of, without so much telling!

This struck home particularly as I wandered through Kettlewell, looking at the multitude of people paying great attention to the church when it was open for tourists, but little when it is open for a service. I spend much of my time preparing sermons, and always have to remember that I am to encourage and cajole in them, not bully and direct. Direction and grace come from prayer, not ranting in the pulpit. Gentleness and tolerance are maybe the two most effective tools to use in turning peoples hearts from jealousy and anger, those two great sins which can tear a church apart.