Day Two was set to be a hot one so we decided to leave Burgh earlier than the bus would have got us there and to take a taxi instead. I say ‘we’ as today I was delighted to have the company of Julie and Ian Paton from St Denys who came all the way up from Leicester to walk with me. Ian and I first spoke about doing the #walk4andy some years back on a church sponsored walk closer to home and so it was very special to have them join me.
We had lots of fun and the time passed quickly on this relatively short part of the walk. However, I think they were a bit disappointed not to see much of the Wall! I know how they feel. It has been puzzling me that here I am at the end of Day Two and I have yet to see anything resembling what I thought Hadrian’s Wall (Vallum Aelium for Latin fans!) was all about.
In fact, we have seen a fair bit of the Wall but not perhaps in the form we were expecting. St Michael’s Church in Burgh and St Mary’s Beaumont were both built with stone pilfered from the Wall. I was so relieved to find St Michael’s open this morning so I could see inside this beautiful little church and the terrific display they have of its history.
Many of the old houses and farm walls probably also make use of stones taken from the Wall when it fell into disuse. We just wouldn’t necessarily have known they were there. They might just look like any other stone wall.
This set me thinking again. The Bible calls us ‘living stones’. Our purpose in life is to be part of something bigger, to be built into something amazing – a home for God’s Spirit – and every stone has a part to play. Look at Danny Dyer’s discovery that his ancestors included King Edward III, and therefore also his grandfather Edward I who died in Burgh by Sands and was laid in St Michael’s Church before being carried back to London to be buried.
Those ordinary stones I’ve ignored today, while walking past engrossed in conversation, could well have been part of Hadrian’s Wall in their past and played a significant part in our national history. How many ‘dotty old ladies’ or ‘confused old men’ do we as a society dismiss as unimportant without stopping to find out their past? For that matter, how many younger people do we dismiss as drunk when they are in fact suffering from VHL or other similar conditions?
I am looking forward to seeing the Wall ‘intactum’ but it’s perhaps good to begin with a reminder not to overlook the possibility that sometimes the most significant stones might not be in the most obvious of places.
And today’s part of the Celtic prayer:
You are the light that shines in dark
You are the heart’s eternal spark