Madly singing in the Peaks

Wednesday 18th March 2020

The wind hunts a crow across the sky, and sheep, un- moving are like white dots on a landscape painting. I have to eat but I am not hungry for food. I hunger for prayer, the call and answer of unnameable love. The longing I have slices my heart into pieces and I don’t even know what prayer is. Ah, the ambivalence of nature, I walk about like a solitary gong, waiting to be lifted and struck. My religion has become a cemetery where I bury all my certainties.

I woke in the night to rain, but not the gentle patter that I get on the flat roof at home. This was an uneven splattering as if a hundred mice were having a wild ceilidh up there. I realised that the trees over head were interrupting the downpour.

The sheep skull rested beside me on the bed and I woke early in the morning to find her watching me. Immediately I thought, “death”. I saw the dead sheep and only a little distance away, there was the skull. This is not the message I wanted at all, not the prophesy I would bring home to people already staggering under a weight of worry too great to bear.

Today I walked on the highest peak and at Wolf’s Crag, a high and remote rocky outcrop, I howled into the wind, full voiced and uninhibited. I was answered three times by a cockerel, possibly very alarmed. Then, about halfway through the walk I got lost for several hours. It was getting dark when I eventually staggered into a lambing shed to ask for directions. A man and his son were moving hay and they invited me to see the lambs that had been born during the previous night. The lambs were leaping about their tired mother and they were so independent and sweet.

The man was a builder called Paul and he offered me a lift back to my car. He was renovating a house in the village where I had begun my walk and curiously I had parked right outside the house. I was so grateful because quite apart from being tired, it was unlikely that I would have got back before dark.

Death and new born life, wandering lost and being helped by a stranger who was also a shepherd, feeling very lonely and at the same time knowing I am exactly where I should be, where is this all leading? We live our lives forwards but only understand them backwards. And in between we can get very lost.