The God of surprises is to be found in the world around us. I was reminded is this as I walked over Black Mountain here in my home town of Belfast today. On very familiar paths through very familiar fields I took a well-worn journey to a spot of seclusion and isolation seemingly made for these times of social distancing. I’ve walked the route countless times and indeed I’ve done so almost every day of the lockdown period Ireland is going through right now.
I’m always at home outdoors and I love the fields and hedgerows and flowers and wildlife I’m exposed to in these walks or danders as we call them in these parts. I usually keep my head and eyes looking ahead or up as I climb but for some reason today I spent more time looking down; looking at the ground I was travelling. And I’m glad I did, because I came across two things that puzzled and intrigued me in equal measure. In two different meadows I found this lovely piece of rock
But what are they? The rock, I have been told by a friend who is an importer of ethically mined stone, is pink flint, made pink through lying in spring water for a very long time. Flint is common on Black Mountain. I see its more common grey brother lying all over the place. It was used for arrow heads, axe heads and knives. Every now and then you can see a piece shaped for one of these purposes many centuries ago. But I have to say even those archaeological pieces are not as impressive as this little gem. Indeed, it has a gem like quality. I’ll shape and polish it over the next week in my workshop.
I haven’t been as lucky with identifying the flowers. Its vivid red in one instance and yellow in another make it very unusual. I imagine I’ve passed these flowers before on my travels without noticing them- they are very small, the size of a daisy or smaller. Until I’m told what they are I’ll have do do as Iris Dement says in the song and ‘let the mystery be‘.
And today was an encounter with mystery; the mystery of the glory of God writ large in the world about us. It is wonderful to be puzzled and intrigued by creation. It is good to have to reach out and be told by others what the things we discover actually are. It is even better to be reminded that there are things in the world that we don’t know about. The God of surprises at work! We are in Laudato Si Week this week, having been invited by Pope Francis to reflect on how we can better care for our common home, the earth. Perhaps my lesson today was to allow the whole of creation to become a church; a giant cathedral of God’s beauty and love for all people and all things. Perhaps we could reflect this well how we would behave in a cathedral, how we would respect its space and how we would want to treat it with the utmost care.