Our decision to try to find somewhere to live in Kent led us to Charing, not so many miles from places where we had lived some years ago. What we did not know was how amazingly varied the walks are here. The lockdown with its permitted daily exercise provided such an opportunity to explore.
With our trusty Ordnance survey map we have been able to explore the local footpaths, going a little further each week. Which way shall we go today, we would ask ourselves. We have climbed up to the top of the North Downs along the path through the barley crop and found our way back down either via the Chalk Pits or by the Windmill. We have walked along the Pilgrim’s Way to Westwell and up around the Gliding Field and back down through the ancient wooded track near the quarry. We have walked to Warren Street of an evening and on one occasion seen an owl flit silently under the trees before returning to Charing along the Pilgrim’s Way. We have even walked to Stalisfield Green and to Stalisfield church. Over these months we have walked through the woods, through carpets of, firstly, wood anemones, then bluebells and now bracken and brambles as we wait to find out where the best blackberries are to be found.
It may be that, by the time you read this, lockdown will have been eased further. Most of us will be faced with an ever-widening array of choices, although some of us may still be unable to venture far. Our choices may relate to work, to the worrying situation of whether our job will still be there after furloughing ceases, and whether we can afford to continue to live in the same place as before. The choice may relate to health, to family, to travel or to when it is possible to get together again for whatever reason. Which choice should we make?
The closure of our churches has been a great sadness for many of us. Wondering whether to watch a service of worship on the television, on Youtube, locally through Zoom or simply reading our bible alone has been a dilemma.
Jesus says, “Follow me!”. But which way? How do we know if it is God’s way or our own way? A challenge for our prayers is to have an honest conversation with God to explore our own deepest longings and needs and to discover God’s desires for us as well. A little while ago, I found a wonderful book by John Ortberg, entitled “All the places to go; how will you know?” He describes how God frequently opens doors and invites us to walk through into the unknown. We may hesitate, we may make excuses but so often we find that, even over a long period of waiting, we still sense an overwhelming urge to follow the way that God is calling us. Few people have ever regretted going through a door which God has opened for them.