We’ve recently moved house, and with that comes lots of trips to the local tip. Nearby is a drive through coffee shop, where we often stop and reward ourselves, especially as I am still on the Long Covid recovery path and even just driving there and back while my husband does the heavy lifting is exhausting for me. So we drive through, park up, sit and watch the world go by. In front of this old Church.
Many locals think it is horrible, and wish it could be flattened. I love sitting with my lemon tart and sweet milky tea, contemplating the sight in front of me. The plants weaving through the brick work. The different colours nature presents against the stark uniform stone. The scents drifting over, reminiscent of the incense which would have drifted down the aisles but so much purer, in their natural, organic, form.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve done a bit of online research and the interior photographs available from ‘urban explorers’ are also beautiful. There is some amazing tilework in there, and the stained glass would have been stunning. But what always strikes me about this Church is that long after the people left, nature continues to speak. We’ve made it ugly with boards, fences and wire. But the natural reclamation only adds to the story of the worship held within the building. This is the planet continuing to grow, thrive, bloom, do its thing. What is that if it isn’t worship?
It also reminds me of the ongoing tussle within the church as an institution. The traditional, trying to stand firm while the cracks continue to widen. The organic, growing theologies, often seen as weeds but beautiful in their own right, just trying to thrive. Intrusive or complimentary? Harmful if not tended to, will pull the building down if neither is adapted to the other. It strikes me there is a powerful analogy there to explore. Natural reclamation within the Church?
And above it all, the cross stands proud still. A symbol of God’s enduring presence as everything continues below Them. Very striking.
I took this photograph on my last trip as I think there is still a lot of meditation and reflection on this to be had. You are welcome to share in this with me.
Peace be with you.