The moment I realised that Offwell, Widworthy and Farway had very little light pollution was early September. I have a telescope which I’d not been able to use for seven years due to the flood lit night sky above Truro. There is nothing better than looking up on a clear night and seeing the stars and planets stretched out in front of you. I was thrilled when I managed to fix my telescope on Jupiter, to see its swirly red eye with its orbiting moons. Absolutely fantastic.
Devon is one of the ancient homes of the Celtic Christian practice. In this tradition there are two books, the Big Book and the Small Book. The Big Book refers to the universe, to creation, to everything that has been spoken into being by God. In this ancient tradition the universe is like a sacred vibration, a living text that we can learn to read by being attentive to the voice of God.
The Small Book is the book of Scripture, the Bible, in which we listen for God speaking to us through the sacred witness and words of God’s people. As we learn to read the Bible, we come to learn how God works through people like you and me. We learn of God’s wisdom revealed through life, and we learn the way in which God speaks to the human heart and into human history. If we listen only to the Small Book and ignore the Big Book, we may miss the vast utterance of God in all things.
If we listen only to the Big Book and ignore the Small Book, we may miss the intimacy of His voice, and God speaking in the secret places of the human heart.
This month the Church marks the Epiphany, when the Magi pursued the signs in the night sky and took note of scripture in their preparations. Navigating life can be difficult at times, and you may be thinking of starting a New Year’s resolution as many do. If the Epiphany tells us one thing, it must be that we are richly rewarded whenever we make time to be attentive to God in whatever we do. Being a Christian in the outdoors helps remind us that the church is not a place, but a people. It helps remind us that when we leave the church building on a Sunday, church doesn’t end, it’s just beginning. It also reminds Christians that the God they witness in creation is exactly the same God they experience when they gather on a Sunday.
Wherever you are and whatever you do I hope you find God, his peace and his blessing.
Revd Jeremy Putnam