I watched anxiously as the river level rose dangerously towards the garden of the cottage that Carla and I were staying in near Bellingham. We were in Northumberland initially as a break away from WiFi and emails and the demands of church but instead we had to concentrate upon finding a house to live in when Carla’s appointment in Oxford comes to an end. The weather was atrocious as storms swept in from the Atlantic with high winds and snow flurries.
One highlight was the night time visit to the Kielder observatory and a fascinating illustrated talk about the stars.
The search for a new home had us travelling to the village of Norham on the border between Scotland and England and that along with the other experiences of the week had me reflecting on the thresholds we cross.
From being Moderator of Assembly to a less prominent role for me and from local church pastorate to free-lance consultancy and writing for Carla. Other borderlands are less well marked than Carter Bar. We live in an age that wants clear boundaries but we move so quickly that the borderland becomes a blur. Where is the threshold between sacred and secular, between maintenance and mission, between comfort and challenge? Does it matter that we cross thresholds without knowing it?
In our searching for a new home we criss-crossed the borderlands of Northumberland, an area with more than its fair share of conflict and hardship yet also a place a of great beauty. I didn’t discover any profound answers to my questioning but the river did not burst its bank. Looking at the night sky I wonder at stars that tell of galaxies beyond my ability to comprehend. If the church in Europe and North America is in its own borderland perhaps the secret to share is that it can be a place of beauty. There are things beyond our ability to comprehend, anxiety and fear need to be replaced by the willingness to be ‘lost in wonder love and praise’.