We haven’t had much chance of time together as a family since I got back, so today we packed a picnic and headed up to Dartmoor, well away from the Bank Holiday crowds. We parked at the viewpoint above Merrivale and climbed a few tors. The weather was absurdly warm, and only a slight haze obscured the magnificent, empty views. There were skylarks in abundance who kept starting up into the air, trilling their unmistakeable song, and we twice saw a bird we later managed to identify as a wheatear. It truly was a magnificent escape from the heat and the closeness of the city.
But what struck me most about our walk was the dryness of the landscape. The turf which should at this time of year should be green and springy was brown and crisp. Pools usually full of water were little more than stagnant puddles. Lichen lay parched on hard granite rocks. If present rainfall pattern continues we could well be heading for another repeat of the summer of 1976.
And as I reflected on this special day in the Christian calendar, it seemed to me that a good way to describe it is as “dry”, a barren time of reflecting with bewilderment on the events of Good Friday, of watching and waiting for the new day, of longing and aching for God – in spite of all that has happened – to make good His promises.
That’s why my final picture of this week (there’ll be another one to go with my sermon tomorrow) is from the Judean desert.
I always imagined the desert to be full of sand, but the place where we visited was just dry, empty, silent rock. And as we entered into the desert silence, the opening verse of Psalm 63 came to mind:
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah. O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
A verse which seems so appropriate on this of all days we wait and watch for the resurrection of Jesus our Lord and Saviour.